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Find Out Which New York Subway Line Has the Best Cell Phone Coverage

Update 5:52 p.m.

One of the travails of living in New York is spending lots of time in underground subway tunnels, where finding decent cell phone coverage can feel like sifting for gold. A new study by a company that benchmarks wireless networks reveals which subway lines in the city have the best coverage and which will turn your smartphone into a paperweight (or a Candy Crush machine).

According to Global Wireless Solutions, the 7 train has the most consistent mobile coverage in Manhattan, with phones being able to access their carriers’ data network 74 percent of the time on the subway line. On the other end of the scale, trying to use the Internet on the F train is pretty much impossible—phones can only get online about 8 percent of the time on that line.

To conduct the test, Global Wireless Solutions used a portable benchmarking system called a Freerider and four Samsung Galaxy S III and S IV smartphones to test the wireless networks of AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile. The test occurred from May 5 to May 8 and covered the area of Manhattan below Central Park. Check out the full results below:

  1. 7 train (Times Square to Grand Central) – 74 percent success rate
  2. E train (50th Street to Lexington Ave/53rd Street) – 52 percent success rate
  3. 6 train (28th St. to Grand Central) – 35 percent success rate
  4. B, D trains (Columbus Circle to Grand St.) – 23 percent success rates
  5. 1 train (Columbus Circle to South Ferry) – 20 percent success rate
  6. A, C trains (Columbus Circle to Fulton Street) – 16 percent success rates
  7. L train (8th Ave to 1st Ave) – 15 percent success rate
  8. 2, 3 trains (Chambers St. to Wall St.) – 14 percent success rates
  9. J, Z trains (Delancey St. to Broad St.) – 12 percent success rates
  10. (Tied) E train (Canal St. to World Trade Center) – 11 percent success rate; N, Q, R trains (Lexington Ave/59th St. to South Ferry) – 11 percent success rates
  11. F Train (Lafayette St. to East Broadway) – 8 percent success rate

In an emailed statement the Metropolitan Transportation Authority called into question the value of the study. “Recently, a Virginia company tried to measure the strength of wireless service in stations that don’t have wireless antennas installed yet – as well as in tunnels which have never been wired for service,” the agency said. “This says a lot about the company’s methodology, but it has nothing relevant to say about wireless service in the subway system. Any New Yorker who has called, texted, emailed or surfed the web while waiting for a train knows the value of this service and, and their opinions matter more than an out-of-state press release.”

The MTA has contracted a company called Transit Wireless to install wireless service in all the city’s subway stations by 2017. So far 47 stations have been equipped with wireless service, the MTA said in its statement.

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