The cost of $200 million or more will be borne by Transit Wireless and the carriers. Wi-Fi users will see ads that will help pay for the service, said Boingo Vice President Zack Sterngold.
Straphangers said they welcomed the underground service.
"You get down here and you can't make phone calls," said Rick Piironen. "It's kind of a pain, right?"
Vlasios Vlassopoulos said cellphone service would be good for emergencies, but added, "I know a lot of cellphones get stolen and I hope that doesn't increase."
Prendergast said the MTA is working with the police transit bureau to ensure safety, adding, "Proper care should be taken as you do with your wallet and things like that."
While cellphones may be used in the stations, there are no plans for service on the moving trains.