WMATA, carriers expand wireless service on rail lines

Posted on December 11, 2019

To date, 80 of WMATA’s 100 miles of tunnel track have cellular and data service available for riders to talk, text, and stream.
Larry Levine
To date, 80 of WMATA’s 100 miles of tunnel track have cellular and data service available for riders to talk, text, and stream.Larry Levine

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) and the nation’s leading wireless carriers — AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless — announced that wireless service is now available on the entire length of the Green Line and most of the Yellow Line, following activation of the tunnel segments between Gallery Place and Branch Avenue stations.

To date, 80 of WMATA’s 100 miles of tunnel track have cellular and data service available for riders to talk, text, and stream. With the announcement, three WMATA rail lines have complete wireless coverage: Green, Orange, and Blue. The three remaining segments are expected to be completed by June 2020.

The cellular project enhances both safety and customer service. In the event of an emergency, customers or employees can communicate with first responders while underground. Riders are also able to make their commutes more productive, allowing them to work, send emails and text messages, watch videos, read the latest news, or catch up with friends.

Installing cables in WMATA’s tunnels cannot be done with trains in service or while track work is underway. The process involves attaching hundreds of miles of cable in the tunnel to support cellular service and a new public safety radio system being installed concurrently. The cellular, radio, power, and fiber optic cables each run the length of the tunnel and tie into cellular and radio network equipment located at various locations.

The $120 million project to wire the tunnels is funded through the agency's Capital Improvement Program and maintained by the wireless carriers. Continued network testing will allow the carriers to optimize voice and data service and ensure reliability for their respective customers.

Cellular service is already available in all underground stations in addition to free public Wi-Fi at all 91 Metrorail stations.

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