Wi-Fi on Subways: There Go Our Personal Lives

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The subway used to be a place where New Yorkers could think, read, or openly gawk at strangers. Now we'll be checking our work email.

According to Brian X. Chen in The New York Times' Bits Blog:

This summer, New York subway riders might be able to actually get some work done on the train (rather than just beating their high scores in Temple Run). Beginning Monday, free Wi-Fi will be available at a number of stations courtesy of Google.

Boingo Wireless teamed up with Google Offers to provide the Wi-Fi, which Google will pay for until September 7, according to Chen. After that, phone and work addicts will have to pay a subscription fee. 

Boingo said its Wi-Fi would be available in 36 New York subway stations by the end of the year, and in 270 stations in the next five years. The company offers several service plans for its Wi-Fi, such as $10 per month for unlimited use on any two Internet-enabled devices, or $8 per month for unlimited access on a mobile device.

There are plenty of places to "actually get some work done" in New York City. There is Wi-Fi in public parks. There are 132 branches of The New York Public Library. Coffee shops. Those also exist here, in addition to office buildings and the boxes-with-doorknobs we call "home." 

Cell phone reception was bad enough, but this is the last straw. We are being denied the basic liberty to pretend we did not receive an email on off-hours. We have lost the freedom to guzzle coffee, scan the tabloids and have wordless existential meltdowns as we travel to the places where we pretend to be competent worker bees.

The subway was for dreamers, drunks, and the halfway-caffeinated masses. The subway was our dirty, mobile, oyster. Now, the world is our office. 

Three cheers for "progress."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.