& cplSiteName &

Chicago Subways to Get 4G Upgrade

Sarah Thomas
10/8/2013
50%
50%

Following the lead of NYC, Chicago is getting ready to equip its CTA subway system with 4G LTE.

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) revealed last week that it would outfit all 12 miles of its underground Red and Blue lines with 4G service. Work will start in mid-2014, but is now accepting proposals from vendors that want to be involved in the upgrade of the eight-year old 1X infrastructure underground.

According to the Chicago Sun Times, six wireless providers currently lease the infrastructure, which cost $12 million to install, for $1.8 million annually. They include Verizon Wireless , AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S), and T-Mobile US Inc. , Leap Wireless International Inc. (Nasdaq: LEAP), and U.S. Cellular Corp. . Leap is in the process of being acquired by AT&T, and U.S. Cellular sold its Chicago spectrum to Sprint, but the other four will likely want to get on board (literally!). (See AT&T to Acquire Leap Wireless for $1.19B and Sprint Warns of US Cellular Switch-Off .)

The CTA, which is funding the upgrade, didn't release any details, but for a good idea of how it'll work, check out Dan Jones's story and pictures from Transit Wireless's work unwiring the NYC subway system: Transit Wireless: Unwiring the NYC Subway.

I was thinking about the CTA's planned upgrade on my morning commute today, packed in like sardines with hundreds of other people going to work. I would have liked to use my phone as I stood there, if I weren’t scared it'd get swiped by someone headed out the door.

Okay, the CTA isn't that unbearable (on most lines), but cellular connectivity underground is going to attract some mixed reviews. For the most part, however, it's inevitable and a good opportunity for the cellular operators to show the strength of their 4G networks. In the train I was on, for example, Sprint's LTE marketing was plastered everywhere with Chicago cleverly tweaked to read "CHIC4GO." If it's providing reliable, fast LTE service underground in the same car that's touting that service, it'll produce some good vibes for the operator.

It's not just underground that's getting cellular-friendly either. Last week, a 28-person panel advised the Federal Aviation Association (FAA) to allow airline passengers to use their devices in airplane mode from takeoff to landing. Phone calls will still be banned, but data usage will be allowed if the FAA accepts the recommendation.

Mobile addicts will welcome this change thousands of feet up as much as the changes below ground. Let's just hope they don't abuse the privilege. Loud talkers, mobile game sound users, wearers of headphones that don't contain the noise -- I'm looking at you.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

(14)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
DOShea
50%
50%
DOShea,
User Rank: Blogger
10/9/2013 | 3:16:16 PM
Re: When downtime was good
Good point about the limited use case for short trips, though I do think customers have come to expect the coverage in subways anyway. Transition to a new card fare system on the CTA has gone pretty horribly, and I would agree this technology transition probably will take longer than expected.
MordyK
50%
50%
MordyK,
User Rank: Light Sabre
10/8/2013 | 5:36:21 PM
Re: Second City Small Cells
Perhaps this can be a catalyst for an agreement on shared RAN small cells for suitable locations.
Phil_Britt
50%
50%
Phil_Britt,
User Rank: Light Sabre
10/8/2013 | 4:23:47 PM
Re: When downtime was good
As a lifelong Chicagoan (now in the suburbs), expect deployment to be slow at best. Also expect it to be noisier than usual as they work on any remaining infrastructure.

Though I ride the CTA little now (I'm in Metra territory), the 4G likely won't make much difference for many short trips -- lack of space and safety can limit practicality during rush hour, and the subway noise and rough riding conditions can make 4G much less usuable than one might initially think.
Sarah Thomas
50%
50%
Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
10/8/2013 | 1:20:51 PM
Re: When downtime was good
Yikes, here is proof that train riders are too caught up in their smartphones: http://www.theverge.com/2013/10/8/4816576/oblivious-cellphone-users-didnt-see-gunman-says-sf-attorney Scary.
pzernik
50%
50%
pzernik,
User Rank: Light Sabre
10/8/2013 | 11:10:19 AM
Re: When downtime was good
Sarah, like you said, we already have voice service on the CTA so 4G data may just make it quieter.  I suspect much of the upgrade will be beefing up the back haul network to handle all that 4G data.
Sarah Thomas
50%
50%
Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
10/8/2013 | 10:36:27 AM
Re: When downtime was good
It's true -- everyone is glued to their phones! I've seen people playing games, watching movies, a lot of Kindle reading, and tons of people who listen to music way too loudly. It doesn't really stop underground either, as they're using offline apps, so the annoyance might not get that worse. Even if you have service, it's hard to hear on the train, so it's not ideal for phone calls.
Sarah Thomas
50%
50%
Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
10/8/2013 | 10:34:51 AM
Re: Second City Small Cells
I think so. It'll license it to all the major operators, so they'll have to agree on an approach. Small cells might save them time and money.
Sarah Thomas
50%
50%
Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
10/8/2013 | 10:33:48 AM
Re: Timeline
My read of the Chicago one is that connectivity should actually work the entire way underground, not just at the stations, although we don't even have WiFi in the stations yet...not really necessary as you don't want to linger in any of them.
Sarah Thomas
50%
50%
Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
10/8/2013 | 10:32:41 AM
Re: Timeline
Yeah, they've been talking about Chicago for awhile, but said construction might not begin until mid-2014 "at the earliest." I've lived here long enough to know that means it'll be a looooong time after that before it's actually complete. Anything with the city works that way.
Gabriel Brown
50%
50%
Gabriel Brown,
User Rank: Light Sabre
10/8/2013 | 10:29:39 AM
Re: Timeline
You should try the Londond Underground. We now have WiFi at quite a few stations, but nothing in the actual tunnels. Which is a shame because that's exactly when you need to look-up the times of your onward train.
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
More Blogs from Que Sera Sarah
Over-the-top content company cuts its famous 120-slide deck down to 10 pages to communicate its values and culture to those both inside and outside of its business.
The ride-hailing company said it has let 20 employees go over an investigation into sexual harassment claims and is still investigating almost 100 others.
Being purposeful and choosing wisely, leveraging mentors, accepting feedback and sticking to her north star helped get Cisco GM Liz Centoni to where she is today.
Women in Comms extends congratulations to the most inspiring woman of the year, Heather Kirksey, and female tech pioneer of the year, Nithya Ramanathan.
Join Women in Comms on May 15 in Austin to discuss the future of tech, how to plan your career for it and much more with some of the industry's top female executives.
From The Founder
Kicking off BCE 2017, Light Reading founder Steve Saunders lays blame for NFV's slow ramp-up and urges telecom to return to old-fashioned standards building and interoperability.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
LRTV Custom TV
VeEX at ANGA COM

6|27|17   |     |   (0) comments


At ANGA COM 2017, Cyrille Morelle, president and CEO of VeEX, updates Alan Breznick with VeEX's new products and technology. This includes VeSion cloud-based platform for network monitoring, AT2500-3G advanced spectrum analyzer and MTTplus-900 WiFi Air Expert module. He also comments on DOCSIS 3.1 deployment and Remote PHY technology.
LRTV Custom TV
The Overall Objective Is to Win the Game

6|26|17   |     |   (0) comments


SCTE•ISBE's Chris Bastian discusses Energy 2020's success to date and the importance of a flexible approach that allows for changes in specific strategies in order to reach significant milestones.
LRTV Interviews
CenturyLink: Let's Get Past SD-WAN Hype

6|23|17   |   04:02   |   (0) comments


Technology becomes a "shiny object" unless it's properly focused on solving business needs for enterprise customers, says Bill Grubbs, network solutions architect for CenturyLink. He explains to Light Reading why SD-WAN deployments have to be tailored to specific needs – and more.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Infinera's Sales Director Paints Tech's Big Picture

6|21|17   |   4:14   |   (1) comment


Shannon Williams, Infinera's director of sales, shares how she achieves work's many balancing acts -- between her role and the broader company, today and tomorrow's tech and more.
LRTV Custom TV
SD-WAN Innovation & Trends

6|20|17   |     |   (0) comments


Versa CEO Kelly Ahuja discusses with Carol Wilson the current status and trends in the SD-WAN market, Versa's innovation around building a software platform with broad contextualization, and the advantages that startups can bring to the SD-WAN market.
LRTV Interviews
Ovum's Dario Talmesio on 5G in Europe

6|20|17   |   02:16   |   (0) comments


At 5G World 2017, Dario Talmesio, principal analyst and practice leader on Ovum's fixed and mobile telecoms European team, explains the emerging trends amongst European operators as they prepare for 5G.
LRTV Custom TV
Putting Power on a Pedestal

6|19|17   |     |   (0) comments


ARRIS's John Ulm says a major accomplishment of SCTE•ISBE's Energy 2020 program is increased focus on power cost and consumption, including inclusion of energy requirements in operators' RFPs and RFIs.
LRTV Custom TV
Gigabit Access: The Last-Mile Pipe for All Future Services

6|19|17   |     |   (0) comments


A Gigabit access platform being deployed today must be able to deliver all types of services to an increasing number of devices. A non-blocking architecture is necessary to support the ever-increasing growth in bandwidth demand. The Huawei Gigabit access solution is based on a distributed design that is fully scalable to deliver a unprecedented performance.
LRTV Custom TV
Key Factors to Successfully Deploy an SD-WAN Service

6|19|17   |     |   (0) comments


As service providers transition their SD-WAN solution from trials and limited deployments into production at large scale, there are important considerations to successfully operationalize these solutions and realize their full potential, without adding complexity, introducing uncertainty or disrupting current business operations. Sunil Khandekar, CEO and Founder ...
LRTV Custom TV
IoT Solutions: Rational Exuberance

6|19|17   |     |   (0) comments


IoT solutions are morphing from hype into viable business opportunities. Huawei has the platform and ecosystem support to help carriers successfully address new business opportunities in the IoT space.
LRTV Custom TV
Realizing ICN as a Network Slice for Mobile Data Distribution

6|19|17   |     |   (1) comment


Network slicing in 5G allows the potential introduction of new network architectures such as Information-centric Networks (ICN) as a slice, managed over a shared pool of compute, storage and bandwidth resource. Services over an ICN slice can benefit from many architectural features such as Name Based Networking, Security, Multicasting, Multi-homing, Mobility, ...
LRTV Interviews
Ovum's Mike Roberts on 5G Uptake

6|19|17   |   04:08   |   (0) comments


Mike Roberts, research director for Ovum's service provider markets group, explains why he has boosted his 5G subscriptions forecast.
Upcoming Live Events
October 18, 2017, Colorado Convention Center - Denver, CO
November 1, 2017, The Montcalm Marble Arch
November 1, 2017, The Montcalm Marble Arch
November 2, 2017, 8 Northumberland Avenue, London, UK
November 30, 2017, The Westin Times Square
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
With the mobile ecosystem becoming increasingly vulnerable to security threats, AdaptiveMobile has laid out some of the key considerations for the wireless community.
Hot Topics
No Imagination: UK Chip Biz Goes Up for Sale
Iain Morris, News Editor, 6/22/2017
Does AT&T Deserve Time Warner?
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 6/23/2017
Netflix's Lesson in Culture Expectation Settings
Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms, 6/21/2017
Kalanick Steps Down as Uber CEO
Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms, 6/21/2017
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Following a recent board meeting, the New IP Agency (NIA) has a new strategy to help accelerate the adoption of NFV capabilities, explains the Agency's Founder and Secretary, Steve Saunders.
One of the nice bits of my job (other than the teeny tiny salary, obviously) is that I get to pick and choose who I interview for this slot on the Light Reading home ...
Animals with Phones
Live Digital Audio

Playing it safe can only get you so far. Sometimes the biggest bets have the biggest payouts, and that is true in your career as well. For this radio show, Caroline Chan, general manager of the 5G Infrastructure Division of the Network Platform Group at Intel, will share her own personal story of how she successfully took big bets to build a successful career, as well as offer advice on how you can do the same. We’ll cover everything from how to overcome fear and manage risk, how to be prepared for where technology is going in the future and how to structure your career in a way to ensure you keep progressing. Chan, a seasoned telecom veteran and effective risk taker herself, will also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air.