Chicago is partnering with AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon to upgrade its subway stations and tunnels with LTE connectivity.
According to a press release, the project is expected to be finished by 2015. Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the $32.5 million deal on Friday.
T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint have collectively agreed to fund the entire upgrade related to the design and construction of a next-generation Distributed Antenna System (DAS).
“By adding 4G wireless service all throughout the CTA [Chicago Transit Authority], we are bringing 21st century technology to every rider on every line of our 21st century transit system,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “This is another way that we are investing in a modern CTA to encourage ridership, make Chicago more economically competitive, and open up more economic opportunities to more residents throughout the city.”
The network upgrade, which began earlier this month and will help improve first responder communications throughout the tunnel system, while also offer subway riders better wireless service. Chicago said the design and installation of the system will create approximately 50 jobs.
“The current wireless technology in Chicago’s subway system dates back ten years, predating most smartphones and many mobile devices,” said Neville Ray, CTO for T-Mobile, the project’s lead wireless provider. “On behalf of the four national wireless providers, we, along with the CTA, the City of Chicago, and the Chicago Infrastructure Trust, are thrilled to bring the millions of Chicago subway riders the benefits of an improved wireless experience and we are committed to a strong partnership and successful implementation.”
Upon completion of the network upgrade there will be continuous 4G coverage crossing 22 miles from O’Hare airport through the underground tunnels and platforms of the Red and Blue Lines, the CTA’s two busiest rail lines.
“The network modernization project not only improves our commuters’ experience by offering faster and more robust wireless services that supports today’s tablets and smartphones, but it also increases system safety measures by providing more reliable communication between CTA personnel and emergency responders,” said CTA President Forrest Claypool.