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Cell, wi-fi service may be coming to a light rail line near you

By Hayley Fox
Published: Friday, February 22, 2013, at 08:46AM
Metro Flickr via Mark Hogan

If the current contract is approved it may take up to two years to get the cell phone infrastructure installed for the light-rail lines.

Metro is considering a contract this month that if approved, would lead to the installation of cell phone and wi-fi service in select stations and underground tunnels throughout their public transit system.

The Source reports that cell service would then be available in Red and Purple Line stations and in the underground portions of the Blue, Gold and Expo lines.

Metro says: "The service would serve a dual purpose: it would enhance public safety by making it much easier to reach police while underground and it could also attract new riders who want to be online during their commute or public transit trips."

The proposed contract is with a firm called InSite Wireless: This company would install the necessary equipment then charge cell carriers to have their signal placed underground. Metro would make at least $360,000 a year from those deals — a "typical type of arrangement in the transit world," according to The Source.

Obtaining cell service for the light-rail lines has been in the works for years. In 2011, Metro issued a request for proposals from potential bidders and then had a committee evaluate the applicants, their experience and their understanding of the project.

From there, Metro has gone through a negotiation process and is now finalizing details of the contract with InSite.

Even if the contract is approved this month, Metro estimates it could take up to two years to get the system up-and-running. Cell phone service would be the first portion completed and the wi-fi would come later.

Do you think cell service on the light-rails is a good idea? or will it become a nuisance? Tell us in the comments!

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