iPhone users exult! AT&T service finally available in subways

Some friends and I just noticed this week that AT&T cell and data service are finally available in the CTA’s Red and Blue line subway.

The CTA signed a 10-year contract in June guaranteeing $3.1 million in revenue. And now finally more than seven months later, iPhone users and other AT&T customers can finally access cell an data service in the subways.

The CTA now provides service for all the major cell providers. Back in 2005 the CTA tried to get cell companies to pony up and pay for the capital improvements needed to provide phone and data service in the subways, but they refused. So the CTA paid for the infrastructure improvements on its own.

Now, it’s finally getting a return on its investment.

UPDATE: In his blog “iPhone therefore I blog,” Scott Kleinberg quotes an AT&T spokesperson as saying they are “in the final stages of this work.” So yes, service may be spotty until all work is finished.


Leave a comment
  • I think saying "AT&T cell and data service are finally available in the CTA's Red and Blue line subway" is a stretch. Right now I'm only getting service between Chicago and Grand on the Red Line.

  • Um, isn't Sprint one of the major cell providers?

  • In reply to tjrudebeck:

    You are correct Thor. Sprint is just about the only major cell provider not to have service in the tunnels. Verizon, US Cellular, AT&T, T-Mobile, even Cricket, all have service.

  • In reply to tjrudebeck:

    I'm still in mourning from when US Cell stopped letting sprint users roam on its network back in summer 08.

  • In reply to tjrudebeck:

    I can't get AT&T wireless in my apartment, so I wouldn't expect it to work well underground.

  • In reply to Cheryl:

    The deal was that CTA built an underground communications system and then leased rights to the various cell phone companies to use it, as explained in the main post.

    The issue isn't whether the cell radio waves penetrate the ground, but whether whatever it takes to communicated between the phone and the CTA system is working properly, and the CTA system is handing off the data to the cell phone company.

  • In reply to jack:

    I understand that Jack. I also know that theoretically I should be able to pick up AT&T service inside my apartment. But it doesn't work.

  • In reply to tjrudebeck:

    Hey Kevin, you were chosen for another "Hot on ChicagoNow:"
    Keep up the great work!

  • Exact same for t-mobile too. Doubt they'll ever bring 3g down there, the biggest reason is to have phone service for emergencies.

    Honestly, being able to do phone calls on the station platforms and text most of the time while down there is kinda nice, even if bus tracker will probably take longer to load then the train :/

Leave a comment