Chicago gets USA's largest subway 4G system

Tuesday, 17 February, 2015

A US$32.5 million deal, brokered by the Chicago Infrastructure Trust, with America’s four major wireless providers - T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon and Sprint - will finance a network modernisation project for the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) to upgrade the wireless network in the city’s subway system.

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 capable of supporting the latest 4G wireless networks and mobile devices.

The network upgrade, which began in January 2015, will improve first responder communications throughout the tunnel system, while giving the millions of Chicago subway riders the opportunity to have a faster mobile experience throughout their commutes.

“The current wireless technology in Chicago’s subway system dates back 10 years, predating most smartphones and many mobile devices,” said Neville Ray, CTO, T-Mobile, the project’s lead wireless provider.

On completion of the network upgrade, which is expected by the end of 2015, 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.

Specifically, there will be continuous 4G coverage crossing 36 kilometres 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 modernisation project not only improves our commuters’ experience by offering faster and more robust wireless services that support 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.

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