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WiFi and Cell Service Could Soon Be Available in Underground Rail Stations

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Picture yourself waiting on the platform in Downtown for your Red Line train home, and you're passing the time getting one last email sent, or calling your friend about dinner plans. This could be reality if Metro goes ahead with a contract on the table to set up all underground rail stations with cellular and WiFi service.

Metro's blog The Source reports that the contract is being considered this month, and Metro staff have put together a report on the contract.

Here are the business specs of the deal:

The contract is with a firm named InSite Wireless. Under the contract, InSite would install the necessary infrastructure and then charge individual cell phone carriers a fee to have their equipment and signal placed underground. Metro, in turn, would make a minimum of $360,000 a year in revenue from those deals — a typical type of arrangement in the transit world.
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The service would be set up in all public underground areas of stations on the Red, Purple, Blue, Expo, and Gold Lines. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like the service will be set up on the trains or in the full tunnels, so you'd have to say so long when the train doors close.

Metro says having the service would not only make it easier for riders to make calls to the police if needed, but also attract new riders who would be drawn to the appeal of being able to be online or on their phone in stations. (Not mentioned by Metro would be how, like, totally awesome it would be to be able to talk and text and make your next move in Words With Friends while waiting for the train.)

This Thursday, the contract will go before the Metro Board’s Executive Management Committee, and if it clears that hurdle it's on to the full Metro Board on February 28. It would then take about two years to get all the equipment in; cellular service would go first and WiFi would follow.