Who hasn't tried to open a Web page or check on a bus connection in a CTA subway tunnel, only to find no bars on you phone or get the dreaded "no Internet connection" message?
Well, the CTA now is trying to make sure that doesn't happen again.
The CTA announced today it has issued a Request for Information (RFI) bid to solicit responses from wireless telecommunication companies to determine the feasibility of designing, financing, installing, operating and maintaining a modern cellular infrastructure system in the 11.4 miles of CTA’s Red and Blue line tunnels and underground facilities. The goal is to ensure continuous mobile phone service underground in all CTA subway tunnels.
According to a news release:
The four-week RFI bid is intended to gather information through an interactive and collaborative process with interested parties, which will help CTA determine the estimated project budget, requirements and timeline for implementation. This information will form the basis of the official Request for Proposals (RFP), which will be issued at a later date. CTA will ultimately seek a neutral-host partner that can serve all wireless carriers. The goal of both the RFI and the RFP will be to find a partner that can provide CTA customers with uninterrupted wireless service.
Under the proposed project, CTA would ultimately own the new network; however, respondents would be solely responsible for funding their proposed projects. In addition to building and operating a vendor neutral-host network – which will allow any wireless service provider to operate on the system – the selected vendor will also be responsible for managing and negotiating third-party license agreements with major wireless service providers. Fees generated from the third-party licenses would be split with the managing vendor and CTA.
The CTA currently owns and leases its subway cellular network to six major wireless service providers, which generates approximately $1.8 million in non-farebox revenue for the agency annually.
This is great news. We've all experienced dropped connections moving from one station to another. Though I do wonder about the wisdom of the CTA ultimately owning the network. It seems like they should stick to their strong suit - delivering mass transit services.