T-Mobile Wireless Services to be Available in CTA Subways by Late Winter

August 12, 2009

The Chicago Transit Board today approved a contract with T-Mobile Central, LLC (T-Mobile) to lease the Chicago Transit Authority’s wireless communications infrastructure in the Red and Blue line subways.  T-Mobile will become the fifth wireless service provider to lease the subway network. The contract is expected to generate a minimum of $3.1 million in new revenues for the CTA for the duration of the 10 year contract.

The installation and successful testing of T-Mobile's base equipment – comprised of amplifiers, transmitters and receivers – in the subways will take place over the next several months. T-Mobile's services are expected to be activated later this year.

In June, the board also approved a similar contract with AT&T, whose services also are estimated to be available later this year. Currently only customers with wireless services through Cricket Communications, Verizon Wireless and U.S. Cellular are able to use cell phones and mobile devices in CTA subways.

"As CTA continues to face budget challenges, it is important to pursue initiatives like this that provide benefits for customers while producing revenue for the CTA," said CTA President Richard L. Rodriguez.

Revenue from the wireless service providers currently leasing the subway network is expected to generate a minimum of $15 million for the CTA over the life of the contracts.

CTA completed the installation of technology to enhance its existing two-way radio system and improve subway communications options for CTA in 2005. The improved telecommunications system also laid the groundwork for the agency to generate additional revenue by leasing its wireless infrastructure for commercial service. The wireless infrastructure allows the use of wireless devices, such as cell phones, text messaging and wireless Internet modems throughout the 11.4 mile subway system.

CTA continues to solicit the participation of additional wireless providers to offer their services to customers in the subway. As more wireless service providers contract lease the infrastructure, more customers will be able to use their wireless devices and maintain communication across their entire trip along the system. 

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