First Commercial Wireless Provider Selected for CTA Subways

December 14, 2005

Today the Chicago Transit Board approved a $2.9 million 10-year lease agreement with U.S. Cellular to provide wireless communication service in CTA's 11.4 mile subway system. Service is expected to be activated by summer 2006. Earlier this year CTA completed installation of the infrastructure necessary to enhance communication capability in the Red and Blue Line subway system. CTA invested in the technology to enhance its existing two-way radio system and improve subway communication options for CTA, Chicago Police Dept. and Chicago Fire Dept./EMS personnel. In addition, the system also allows CTA to generate additional revenue by contracting use of the system to wireless service providers for the benefit of transit customers.

"Enhancing the communications technology in the subway benefits CTA operations and customers, and generates additional revenue for the agency," said Chicago Transit Board Chairman Carole Brown. "The more options we have to communicate in the subway, the better able we are to deliver quality service to the half-million customers who use our rail system each weekday."

"Originally, the main purpose for the investment was to improve emergency communications capabilities in the subway. By investing in the infrastructure to improve communications capabilities in the subway, we also have the opportunity to generate revenue through agreements with wireless service providers," said CTA President Frank Kruesi. "Technology is an integral part of society today and we are able to use this opportunity to enhance communications capabilities for our customers too. They will now have the convenience of using cell phones, e-mail, wireless internet, paging and text messaging while in the subway."

Initially, only U.S. Cellular customers will be able to use their wireless devices in the subway, however, CTA is working to add additional service providers to the system. As more Chicago-area wireless service providers contract with the CTA to provide services, more customers will be able to use their wireless devices throughout the CTA's subway system. Over the next several months, U.S. Cellular will order, install and test its base equipment, comprised of amplifiers, transmitters and receivers, to the CTA infrastructure.

 

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