Lawmakers want to expand cell phone use to more U.S. subway systems

“During an emergency, wireless users are often the first ‘eyes and ears’ at the incident, providing critical information for first responders,” NENA CEO Brian Fontes wrote in a letter to House Transportation Committee Chairman James Oberstar (D-Minn.) and ranking member John Mica (R-Fla.).
“Almost 300,000 wireless 9-1-1 calls are connected each day, and that number continues to grow,” Fontes said.

Fontes and Steve Largent, CEO of CTIA, want Oberstar and Mica to insert provisions that were included in last year’s Rail Safety Improvement Act, which was spearheaded by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and required Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority to give wireless companies access to the Metro system to build networks.

Edwards and Duncan also have support from colleagues, including Laura Richardson (D-Calif.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Bill Schuster (R-Penn.) and Bob Latta (R-Texas). Here's the letter (pdf) they sent to committee leaders.

Giving wireless companies access to tunnels and platforms can also benefit public transportation systems that are often strapped for cash and reliant on public funding, said Jot Carpenter, CTIA vice president for government affairs.
“As it turns out, it’s a very good thing for subway providers,” he said. “The carriers pay them rent and can build in excess capacity in that subway employees can use.”