CHICAGO — Commuters who ride the "L" through Chicago's subway tunnels are about to get a boost from the city and four major wireless carriers.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced a $32.5 million deal Friday between the city and the carriers to bring 4G service to the CTA subway by the end of the year.
The mayor's Chicago Infrastructure Trust cut a deal with T-mobile, AT&T, Sprint and Verizon making Chicago the largest city in America to have subway system equipped with full 4G cellular coverage.
The four major wireless providers have agreed to finance a network modernization for the Chicago Transit Authority. The companies will design and construct the Distributed Antenna System (DAS) capable of supporting 4G wireless networks and mobile devices at no cost to subway riders or the city.
"By adding 4G wireless service all throughout the CTA, we are bringing the 21st Century technology to every rider on every line of our 21st Century transit system," Emanuel said. "This is another way that we are investing in a modern CTA to encourage ridership, make Chicago more economically competitive and open up more economic opportunities to more residents throughout the city."
Network upgrades began earlier this month and are expected to be completed by the end of the year. According to the mayor's office, the upgrades will help improve first responder communication in the tunnel system, while providing subway riders with mobile access throughout their commute.
"The network modernization project not only improves our commuters' experience by offering faster and more robust wireless services that supports 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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