CTA to improve Internet connectivity in subway tunnels

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.


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  • I haven't used my phone in the tunnels.
    This seems to be just another way for people to keep their expensive smartphones out & get stolen!

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    People don't get their phones stolen in the tunnels. They get swiped at the stations when the low lives grab the phone and make a dash out the door. Unless you're traveling at 3:00 am in an empty car, you're relatively safe while you're moving.

    Of course, if you're so engrossed in your phone that you don't notice that you're pulling into a station, well then,...

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    The last I knew, the stations at North and Clybourn, Clark and Division, State and Chicago/Grand/Lake/Monroe/Jackson/Harrison/Roosevelt, Milwaukee and Division/.Chicago/Grand, Clark & Lake, Dearborn and Washington/Monroe/Jackson, and Congress and LaSalle/Clinton were in tunnels. At least not in eyeshot of the satellite.

  • In reply to jack:

    There's already decent service at the actual stations. So people will pull out their phones for a moment at the stations, when they're most likely to get stolen. That's SpinyNorman's point. Extending the service to the tunnels so it's usable when you aren't at a station is unlikely to add to thefts. And some of us have actually missed important calls dues to the lack of service between stations.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    or cell tower.

  • At this point, it is just a study.

    However, when installed, it was supposed to be a necessary part of CTA infrastructure, which it discovered it could rent out.

    But the question will be whether it can make money on the use Scooter describes.

  • In reply to jack:

    Before the leaky coax was installed in the tunnels, I used to get a kick out of watching people just stare at a phone with no bars portal to portal.
    It's also fun to watch them quietly swear to themselves on trains entering Union Station, when the trains go under the air rights buildings.

  • What's the point? I'm not going to be enjoying it with these uncomfortable seating arangements on the 5000s.

  • In reply to ibilldavis:

    I think the 5000 seat arrangement will make phone theft much easier.
    All the thieves will have to do is reach down for the phone, instead of over.
    Let's see if the thefts increase this year with so many more of these awful seats.
    The worst part is, the 5000 ride is much better, the train is quieter due to the interlocking door edges.
    But the seats are as uncomfortable as can be. Except for two seats per car, everyone has a stanchion cutting in to one of their thighs.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Not if you are 90-105 lbs (whether 4'8" or 5'10"). But most Victoria's Secret models don't ride the L.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Scooter I agree with you said. The 5000s are billion dollar junk. The worst thing that has happenned since November 9, 1997.

  • In reply to ibilldavis:

    1. Now we know who "chicagomotorman" is.

    2. Just wait until the 7000s, even despite what the chief rail engineer said at the prebid meeting. More than likely, charcoal gray longitudinal seats.

  • In reply to jack:

    ok. Good for you.

  • I don't go underground. And I keep my phone out of sight on the CTA.

  • In reply to Cheryl:

    So what's a person supposed to do to not have their Kindle stolen? Occupying time during transit is what they are for. Taking a forward-facing seat by the window would work. But it has been decided that we cannot have those any more.

  • As I've said before -- A savvy candidate could use replacing those rotten 5000 seats with the 3200 class cars seat configuration as a great, and effective Election Promise in 2016:

    "Replace Monarchy with Democracy in Chicago"

  • Replace Monarchy with Democracy in the United States of America.

  • What's the point in doing this when Cta uses those old noisy trains and you can not hear anyway then you have young black males passing from car to car looking for victims and Cta and CPD could not care less unless they kill some one then they are forced to do some work,like at Fullerton,and he should have got life,32 yrs is a slap on the wrist

  • I remember looking for where to find a telecommunications company that I could contract with regarding this or that thing. To hook up what I needed and so on. I had already found a way out of this situation when I read the detailed information about this company here https://safelink-wireless.pissedconsumer.com/review.html and read the reviews in detail and now I have no problems at all. I recommend that you check it out!

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