It's About More Than Emails
London and New York are most certainly no strangers to terrorist attacks, and getting a signal underground might prove vital in a terrorist situation, which is an angle that hasn't yet been considered in all this talk about "financial viability." A recent study following the earthquake in Haiti showed that Digicel (the country's biggest mobile phone network) were able to provide information about how many people had fled to which area by seeing which phone towers people were using. On July 7th 2005 many people were virtually imprisoned (or worse) as part of a terrorist plot when using the Tube in London. Having no phone reception whatsoever meant that authorities didn't really know how many people were down there, never mind that those concerned weren't able to make themselves heard.
Mobile phone reception underground isn't just about offering a better service, it's about giving a choice that other cities take for granted that these cities deserve too, and yes even offering a lifeline in some situations. Why should it be that travellers in other cities can use their mobile on the subway and leave NY and London standing?
Just because something appears to be commercially unviable, does not mean that it is not a worthwhile thing to do. And in the long-term the money could easily be earned back. The smartphone industry is booming and networks are cleaning up, so isn't it about time that they used some of that profit for something worthwhile for everyone? Just think of all the extra data usage charges they can sting us for!
What do you think? Is the subway the one place you enjoy peace from your smartphone, or is it a scandal that New York and London are so behind the times? Leave a comment and let us know.