Following the approval by the Chicago Transit Board of a 10-year contract with Sprint Solutions, Inc., Sprint/Nextel today became the sixth wireless service provider to lease the use of CTA’s subway communications infrastructure. CTA will receive approximately $3.1 million over the life of the contract.
Installation and testing of Sprint’s base equipment — comprised of amplifiers, transmitters and receivers — within the subway will take place over the next several months. Following installation, service is expected to begin in early 2011.
In 2005, CTA completed the installation of technology to enhance CTA’s existing two-way radio system and improve subway communications options for CTA, the Chicago Police Department and Chicago Fire Department in the Red and Blue line subways.
The improved telecommunications system also laid the groundwork for the agency to generate additional revenue by leasing its wireless infrastructure for commercial service to allow the use of wireless devices, such as cell phones, text messaging and wireless Internet modems throughout the 11.4 mile subway system.
Sprint joins AT&T, Verizon Wireless, U.S. Cellular, T-Mobile and Cricket as the current wireless service providers in CTA's subway system. U.S. Cellular became the first wireless provider to lease use of the infrastructure in 2006, while Verizon Wireless signed on in 2008, and AT&T, Cricket and T-Mobile signed on in 2009.
CTA anticipates the leasing of the subway network to the wireless service providers to generate a minimum of $15 million for the CTA over the life of the contracts.
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