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NJ Transit approves Wi-Fi plan from Cablevision

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) -- New Jersey Transit's board approved a proposal Wednesday that will give rail travelers wireless Internet access in stations, on platforms and onboard trains by the end of 2016.

But it won't be free for everyone.

The contract with Cablevision Systems Corp. is for 20 years and won't cost NJ Transit anything. Cablevision will install fiber optic cabling, wireless access points, antennas and related equipment in stations, along the right-of-way and onboard vehicles, the agency said in a news release.

"This public-private partnership will enable NJ Transit to deliver on one of the top requests from our customers — wireless Internet access at stations and onboard trains," NJ Transit Executive Director James Weinstein said.

Cablevision subscribers will be able to use the wireless service as part of their subscription package. But non-subscribers will be charged a "reasonable" fee that has yet to be determined, Cablevision spokeswoman Kelly McAndrew said.

"Our objective is to have as many New Jersey Transit customers as possible use the Wi-Fi service," McAndrew said.

The dedicated, trackside Wi-Fi network is the first of its kind in the nation, NJ Transit said.

The project is expected to be largely completed by the end of 2016. The first phase of the project will provide wireless access by the end of this year in major stations such as Newark Penn Station, Hoboken and Secaucus. Other stations will follow, along with rail cars by line.

It wasn't immediately known in what order the rail lines would be connected.

McAndrew said the work will be performed at several locations at once so, for instance, one station wouldn't have to be completed before another is started.

Cablevision serves about 3.2 million customers in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.