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No cell service on NY tunnels

Discussion in 'Wireless News' started by fb, Jul 11, 2005.

  1. fb

    fb Senior Member
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    http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2005-07-10-nyc-cell_x.htm

    NYC river tunnels lose cell service
    By Leslie Cauley, USA TODAY

    NEW YORK — New York's traffic tunnels went silent last week, figuratively speaking.
    Immediately after the terrorist bombings in London, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey abruptly cut power to the microcells that make it possible to use cell phones in the Lincoln and Holland tunnels under the Hudson River. Cell users in the heavily traveled tunnels, which connect Manhattan and New Jersey, lost service.

    The microcells are owned by Verizon Wireless, the sole vendor for service in the tunnels, but the Port Authority has final say-so over them. The agency isn't saying why it cut the power. Verizon Wireless spokesman Jim Gerace says his company assumes it was to avoid a repeat of the London attacks, in which terrorists may have used phones to coordinate or detonate bombs.

    Gerace says the Port Authority has been mum about when, or even if, it plans to restore power. The agency has only told the company that power will stay off "until further notice," Gerace says.

    The Holland and Lincoln tunnels have been wired for cell phone service for 10 years. Over that time, Gerace says, the microcells have never been turned off — including the period right after 9/11.

    New Yorkers don't have to worry about cell phone service in the subway: There isn't any. The city's subway system is a huge web of hundreds of miles of tunnels. Largely because of the system's size, Verizon has never tried to wire it for service, Gerace says.

    Verizon Wireless does provide service in the Washington, D.C., subway, but the Washington area's transit agency has not moved to pull the plug, he says.
     
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  2. bobolito

    bobolito Diamond Senior Member
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    I don't understand what they mean by this. Are they saying that Verizon owns T-Mobile, Sprint, Nextel and Cingular microcells in the tunnels? or do they mean that Verizon is they only service that works in the tunnels? Of course, the latter is totally wrong as all service providers have service in the tunnels.
     
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  3. Critic

    Critic The Digital Ruler
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    They may very well be suggesting that both the CDMA and GSM microcells in the tunnels are owned by VZW (installed as a public service). I'm not sure, tho.

    Personally, I think this is somewhat over-reactionary on the part of the Port Authority. I understand that the suspicion is that someone could load an explosive into the back of a car with a cellphone-based detonator, wait until it's in the tunnel, and then call it to detonate. But really, what's the logic here? It's not like it's a secret that the microcells are offline, so if someone were to construct one of these devices, they'd just have to add a delay timer to the detonator. Plus, there's still plenty of signal spill at either end of the tubes. Ugh.

    Also, does anyone know if the MTA turned off the microcells in the East River Tunnels? What about the bridges? It's not like the PANYNJ can cut off service to someone crossing the GWB...
     
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  4. bobolito

    bobolito Diamond Senior Member
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    I don't see how anyone can just drive a car into the tunnel and leave it there without waking up immediate suspicion and hope to have time to get out and detonate it remotely using a cell phone. The tunnels are constantly monitored with cameras from end to end. So I agree they overreacted a bit. Anyone hoping to do this would have to get out of the tunnel somehow maybe by jumping quickly into another car. Again this will be seen through the cameras right away prompting a tunnel shutdown immediately. The only one that could do something like this would be a suicide bomber, and he won't need a cell phone to detonate.

    However, the signal spill from outside is not enough to get past 500 feet into any of the tunnel entrances. Trust me, it dies right away!

    Another thing, the bridges don't have microcells because they are not needed. They use regular sites located on land on each side of the river, most of the times on building roofs which are private property which means the MTA doesn't have any control over those sites. Therefore, those are still active.

    Now, there is just one little problem with those allegations that Verizon is the owner of those microcells: Verizon was NOT the first carrier to have cell coverage in the tunnels. Back in the mid 90's I remember AT&T Wireless bragging about them being the ONLY carrier with coverage in the tunnels (TDMA/AMPS). So how could Verizon (Bell Atlantic back in the day) own the microcells without offering coverage to their own customers?
     
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    #4 bobolito, Jul 11, 2005
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2005
  5. jones

    jones Silver Senior Member
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    T-Mobile has coverage in the Lincoln Tunnel
    so they may be included in this ruling too.
     
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  6. Fire14

    Fire14 Easy,Cheap & Sleazy
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    Sometimes I wonder about the Port Authority of NY/NJ, they seem to have alot of power to do whatever they want & don't need to answer to anyone. Just look at the debate on the Freedom tower & how they don't have to abide by building codes.
    They should have at least given an explination for doing this, at least the people who use the systems, have a right to it, in my opinion.
     
  7. Critic

    Critic The Digital Ruler
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    bobo - Of course I realize the bridges don't have microcells. I was being sarcastic to make a point (although no one answered the question about the MTA East River tunnels). You're probably right about the outside spill, tho - it's not like I've been able to test it myself.

    I suppose the point I was trying to make was that if someone were really inclined to do damage to the Lincoln or Holland Tunnels, shutting down the microcells in the tubes won't do a whole lot.
     
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  8. bobolito

    bobolito Diamond Senior Member
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    I think it is every tunnel shut down. I was watching the news just earlier when they mentioned it, but they were not specific about it.
     
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  9. Yankees368

    Yankees368 Compulsive Signal Checker
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    In my mind, it is absolutly more of a danger to turn there microcells off rather than to leave them on. If there is an emergency in the tunnels (Daylight, anyone?) I want those cells to be working!
     
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  10. Jrapp

    Jrapp Senior Member
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    NY Daily News is reporting that service has been restored to the Brooklyn Battery and Queens Midtown tunnels. Both are operated by the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA). However, Lincoln and Holland tunnels remain shut down. These two are operated by the Port Authority of New York & New Jersy (PANYNJ).

    Interestingly, NYPD officials are denying they requested the shut down of cell service. Also interesting is the fact that while the Madrid bombers used cell phones, they used the phones alarms, NOT A CELLULAR SIGNAL, to detonate those bombs. Thus, shutting down the service in tunnels would be fruitless as a signal is not needed. It also seems the shut down was a unilateral move by these two "public" authorities without much thought put into it.

    Finally, NYC tunnels, and I would think all underwater tunnels, are erected several hundred feet below bedrock. While blowing up a tunnel would be a hideously cowardly act, I question its ability to cause mass loss of life. You would need a lot of explosives to actually flood the tunnels.
     
  11. dallison

    dallison Senior Member
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    and what do people do if there is an emergency
     
  12. Andy

    Andy Diamond Senior Member
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    That's exactly my question. I guess go to a call box inside the tunnel.
     
  13. dallison

    dallison Senior Member
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    went thru lincoln on sat, and yup, no signal
     
  14. bobolito

    bobolito Diamond Senior Member
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    [​IMG]
     
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  15. dallison

    dallison Senior Member
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    omfg that is funny
     
  16. Critic

    Critic The Digital Ruler
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    That IS funny.

    FYI, the microcells in the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels are back on as of today, according to a report I heard on WNBC this morning. The East River Tunnels are still offline.
     
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  17. bobolito

    bobolito Diamond Senior Member
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    So I guess now it is safe for people to try and bomb the tunnels now. :rolleyes:
     
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  18. Jrapp

    Jrapp Senior Member
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    The East River tunnels have been live for a week now. Went through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel last night & had service.
     
  19. Andy

    Andy Diamond Senior Member
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    Kind of funny what kind of actions are taken for 'safety' sometimes... :rolleyes:
     
  20. jones

    jones Silver Senior Member
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    agreed.
    Some people might think only VZW has coverage inside the TUNNELS.

    To set the record straight:
    Carriers providing services in the tunnels include Cingular Wireless, Nextel Communications, Sprint, T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless.
     
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