The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) and wireless carriers, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless announced that approximately two-thirds of WMATA’s tunnels are now wired for cellular and data service. This marks the near completion of underground wireless service in Virginia, with the addition of the newest tunnel segments on the Yellow and Blue lines that are “wireless ready.”
Customers can now check emails, send messages, and perform other functions using voice and data service underground. Work will continue by the wireless carriers to make adjustments that will enhance the underground wireless network and maximize coverage. Only one short tunnel segment in Virginia remains, between Tysons Corner and Greensboro on the Silver Line.
With the completion of the latest segment, wireless voice and data service is now available on tunnel portions of all six Metrorail lines covering approximately 67 miles of WMATA’s 100 miles of tunnel track, including the entire Orange and Blue lines, most of Northern Virginia and Downtown DC.
The $120 million capital project to install dual radio and cellular cables within the agency’s tunnels began in February 2016 and is scheduled to be completed by June 2020. The labor-intensive process involves installing special trays on the tunnel walls to support the heavy cables and requires the track be taken out of service for the work to be done.
WMATA is equipped for cellular service in all 47 underground stations and free public Wi-Fi in 65 underground and above ground stations. By June, Metro expects to have Wi-Fi available at the 26 remaining above ground stations.