Mayor Emanuel Announces First Chicago Transit Authority Subway Section Now Offers Chicagoans 4G Wireless Service

October 15, 2015

CTA will be the Largest Public Transit System in the U.S. with 4G Coverage in all Subway Stations and Tunnels; Targeted to be Completed by the End of 2015

Mayor Rahm Emanuel today announced the completion of the first phase of a project to bring 4G wireless coverage to the Chicago Transit Authority subway system. Upon completion of the network upgrade, which is expected by the end of 2015, the City of Chicago will be the largest city in North America to have a subway system with full 4G wireless coverage across its entire system of subway stations and tunnels.

Starting this week, CTA Blue Line O’Hare Branch riders have full 4G wireless coverage in the Kimball Subway, a 1.2-mile section serving the Logan Square and Belmont stations. Activation of 4G coverage in the remaining portions of the Blue and Red Line subways will occur in phases, with the entire subway network completed by year’s end.

“The addition of 4G coverage will ensure that CTA passengers can benefit from dependable data service while riding the subway,” said Mayor Emanuel. “Importantly, it will also improve communications for first-responders working inside the tunnel system. This is part of the city’s ongoing efforts to invest in 21st century technology for Chicago’s world-class transit system, and expand economic opportunity for more Chicagoans throughout the city.”

The 4G wireless project is a $32.5 million deal, brokered by the Chicago Infrastructure Trust, with America’s four major wireless providers – T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint – to finance the network modernization. In January 2015, T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint collectively agreed to fund the design and construction of a next-generation Distributed Antenna System (DAS) capable of supporting the latest 4G wireless networks and mobile devices. 

The project will provide continuous 4G coverage in 22 miles of subway, from O’Hare airport and through the underground tunnels and platforms of the Red and Blue Lines, the CTA’s two busiest rail lines.

The network upgrade, which began earlier this year, will give millions of Chicago subway riders a faster mobile experience throughout their commutes. The design and installation of the system will create approximately 50 jobs.

“We’ve finished phase one of the project and by the end of 2015, the new network will be ready to provide an incredible 4G wireless experience to T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon and Sprint customers that ride the Chicago subway enabling them to talk, chat, tweet, surf, or send and receive video calls while using the nation’s second largest public transportation system,” said Neville Ray, Chief Technology Officer, T-Mobile, the project’s lead wireless provider.

“4G wireless will not only improve customer 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 Dorval R. Carter.

This initiative is one of several efforts by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and CTA President Carter to modernize the City’s infrastructure and further improve Chicago’s world-class transit system. Over the past four years, several technology improvements have been implemented across Chicago’s transit system, including expansion of CTA Train Tracker and Bus Tracker functionality, digital displays with service information at bus shelters and rail stations throughout the service region, and a dramatically expanded security camera network.

About the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA)
The CTA operates the nation's second largest public transportation system and covers the City of Chicago and 35 surrounding suburbs. On an average weekday, approximately 1.7 million rides are taken on CTA buses and trains.

About the Chicago Infrastructure Trust
The Chicago Infrastructure Trust was created in April 2012 by executive order of Mayor Emanuel and City Council resolution. The Trust’s purpose is to assist the people of the City of Chicago, the City government and its sister agencies in providing alternative financing and project delivery options for transformative infrastructure projects. Visit the Trust's website at www.shapechicago.org

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