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CTA Inches Closer To Expanding 4G Service Upgrades On Subways

By Chuck Sudo in News on Jul 10, 2014 1:50PM

Photo credit: Bob Segal

Chicago Transit Authority’s push to upgrade WiFi service on Red and Blue Line subway tunnels is crawling along at 2G speeds. The Tribune reports a $19 million contract is pending approval by CTA’s board that would expand wireless service.

Once the contract is approved, Aldridge Electric Inc. would begin work in November and work in phases to upgrade the agency’s wireless network. The Blue Line would receive upgrades next spring while the Red Line would be completed late 2015. CTA spokeswoman Tammy Chase told the Tribune the existing network would continue to run.

CTA’s wireless network was originally installed in 2005, when the Motorola RAZR was the most popular cellphone in America and the most sophisticated video game on a phone was Snakes on an LCD screen. In addition to improving speed and reliability for riders using their smartphones to surf the web and use social media, the upgrades are intended to improve communication between CTA employees and first responders in emergency situations.

CTA began accepting bids for the service upgrades in February. Aldridge will use the existing network for the upgrades to keep costs down. CTA licenses the network to six cellular carriers, which generates $1.8 million annually for the agency.