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Taking 5: Cellphone Service Anywhere

And so it begins.  I’m talking, of course, of cellphone service coming to the London Underground, the New York City Subway and eventually airplanes.  Boris Johnson, mayor of London, has gotten the ball rolling this week by forcing Vodaphone, O2, Orange, T-Mobile and 3 to all split the cost of installing an maintaining a cellular network in the Underground.  The cost is estimated to be somewhere over £100 million.  He’s making this push to cover all of the Underground before the Olympics begin in 2012.

I can see great benefit in having coverage throughout an entire city, including underground (and the Underground in the case of London).  You can pull up directions to ensure you are got on the correct train, or respond to emails/get some work done during your commute and of course call for help if something terrible happens.  And I can get behind that, I can.  But what about the obnoxious people?

I want to get behind having service everywhere.  I want to be able to use my phone or tablet or laptop anywhere I go.  I think it would be awesome to always be connected but if I’m always connected, it means other people can reach me.  I take the Subway to work every day and while the train is loud, everyone is standing (or sitting) in silence trying not to make eye contact with each other.  If I have cellular service, it means I can make a call. And If I can make a call, so can everyone else.

I don’t want to sound like crotchety old man (too late) but I feel these concerns are valid.

I’d like to think that the people will govern themselves and have the courtesy to speak softly if they have to talk on the phone.  The subways in Tokyo operate in this way, but something tells me that only the Japanese operate at this level of self governing.  I’ve lived in New York long enough to know no matter the hour, someone will be on the phone, yelling (out of anger or joy) into their handset for the world to hear.

A recent study reported “Overhearing someone spewing intermittent exclamations into a handheld gadget lacks the predictability of hearing a two-way exchange and thus proves inherently unsettling…” This is not a surprise. Science didn’t have to tell me that.  But it feels good to cite it here. 

The nerd in me is excited to have service everywhere.  The adult in me has some concerns.

[via Telegraph, Engadget, Bloomberg, SienceNews]