LIRR and MetroNorth RFP for Train and Station Wi-Fi

We missed this item last week, but it seems that the MTA has put out an RFP for Wi-Fi service on LIRR and MetroNorth trains and at stations. You can download the PDF (3mb) or view it inline.

NYC MTA Wireless Broadband RFP 2010 http://d1.scribdassets.com/ScribdViewer.swf?document_id=33695734&access_key=key-2cfhbxywxnmhy0ffu4t6&page=1&viewMode=list

Glenn Fleishman of Wi-Fi Net News has a great writeup about this RFP, which leaves a lot to be desired:

The MTA wants a service provider who would operate a network to bear all the expense of installation and operation (including railroad labor costs for same), provide 24×7 customer support, and uninterrupted service.

But the proposal is pretty muddled. While digital advertising (changeable signs on board trains and at stations) should be part of a bidder’s thinking to minimize the cost in installing such systems, there’s no spec for those systems. A bidder can build a bid partly around offering such services. The MTA also likes bids in which the authority shares in revenue.

I don’t see how this could fly. No sensible firm would propose taking on all this expense without any assurance of revenue beyond the public Wi-Fi side of the system. Despite the large number of passengers, many of those most likely to pay already have 3G service on smartphones or through laptop cards. There’s no operational services component, and that should be the baseline for any new rail RFP of the last five years.

Event: How the Internet Works – and how to Protect Freedom Online

This is a great upcoming event, and NYCwireless will be there:

Voterbook Manhattan, the Media and Democracy Coalition, People’s Production House and Free Press invite you to a panel and town hall:

WHEN: Saturday, April 3, 2 p.m.
WHERE: P.S. 20, the Anna Silver School
166 Essex Street, Lower East Side

A town hall discussion and panel about Internet access, what it means in our community, the threats from big cable and phone companies to censor your speech online – and how you can fight back.

PANELISTS:
Kris Rios, media policy associate with People’s Production House
Tim Karr, campaign director with Free Press
Dr. Michael Livermore, director of the NYU School of Law’s Institute for Policy Integrity
… and more!

Free and open to all. We will be screening some of the People’s Production House documentary “The Internet is Serious Business,” taking questions, and having a lively discussion.

For more information and to RSVP, contact Jeff Kurzon at jeffkurzon@gmail.com, or Hannah Miller at hmiller@media-democracy.net or 215-888-8036.

We look forward to seeing you!

Free Wi-Fi in Penn Station!

Our intrepid, on-the-street Wi-Fi sleuth Klaus Ernst has discovered that Penn Station now has some free Wi-Fi courtesy of Amtrak. Wandering through the station, he snagged a screenshot of the login screen from his iPod Touch.

Klaus tells us that the connection is speedy (7Mbps down/1.7 up), and that its available throughout the Amtrak waiting area and most of the rest of that level. The free Wi-Fi in Penn Station is part of Amtrak’s recently launched Wi-Fi program on their Acela trains.

Let us know if you try out this network or the one on the Acela trains. We’d love to hear about people’s experiences!