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AT&T, Transit Wireless look to expand New York subway cell service

The two companies have a goal to bring wireless service to as many as 242 additional subway stations.

It's still early days when it comes to getting cellphone service in a New York subway station. Roger Cheng/CNET

AT&T and Transit Wireless said on Wednesday that the two companies have expanded a deal to bring cellular service to as many as 242 additional underground subway stations in New York.

There are currently 36 subway stations in Manhattan that can pick up cellular service, and AT&T and Transit Wireless are working on adding coverage to 4 more stations as part of the second phase of their project.

With consumers increasingly on their smartphones, the wireless carriers have been keen to provide coverage everywhere their customers are. While cellular coverage is prevalent in underground stations in other cities around the world, New York's older infrastructure didn't allow for coverage until the last two years -- and only in limited deployments. Being able to offer cell service underground is an additional selling point for the carrier.

AT&T and T-Mobile were the first to dip their toes in getting cellular coverage into subway stations with the initial trial of six stations in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. Since then, Verizon Wireless and Sprint have also committed to getting service in the station.

The second phase of the roll out include 11 stations in midtown Manhattan, including Grand Central Terminal, 34th Street Herald Square, and Bryant Park, as well as 29 stations in Queens. The 40 stations are expected to be completed by the end of the summer.

"By extending their commitment throughout the full build of this project, AT&T is helping ensure dependable, high-speed wireless coverage in the subway system for all their customers in New York and future innovations that improve the rider experience for years to come," Transit Wireless CEO William A. Bayne said in a statement.