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The 4 Major Wireless Carriers Are Bringing LTE To The Subways Of Chicago

The 4 Major Wireless Carriers Are Bringing LTE To The Subways Of Chicago

The subways of Chicago will having be having 4G LTE services soon. All four major wireless carriers in the United States -- AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless -- are working together to roll out a $32.5 million LTE upgrade to the Chicago subways. That will include 22 miles of subway tunnels under the Windy City. 


Most people think of Chicago's metro train system as the L train system (the L is short for elevated). But not many know that two of the Windy City's main lines actually go underground for about 20 stops when approaching the downtown area. 


And when the trains go below ground level, Chicago commuters often lose their mobile device connections. When that happens, the last 15 minutes of the commute time sort of becomes an offline hell, especially for people who always like to stay connected.


This project, which targets the last quarter of 2015 as its completion date, aims to change all that. T-Mobile is leading this massive undertaking and will be tasked with overseeing the construction of a distributed antenna system (DAS) all throughout the subway tunnels of Chicago. Instead of a cell tower, T-Mobile will install several transmitters in certain strategic positions throughout the tunnels. These transmitters will connect back to a central location (base station hotel) that is situated in the depths of the city.


What about the other major wireless carriers? Well, they will install their network gear in the base station hotel so that they will be able to connect their networks to the DAS.


Interestingly, this is not the first DAS installed in the subway tunnels of the Windy City. Ten years ago, Allgon Telecom actually installed a 2G network in the tunnels. But the network Allgon built was a voice-centric one and it never really worked well underground. 


This time around, telecoms company obviously have better and more powerful technology now. And with all the four major wireless carriers in the US joining forces, this should have impressive results. 


The trend of providing subway tunnels with LTE connections has really been picking up in the last few months. For instance, not too long ago, New York City also had its subway system updated with 4G and Wi-Fi connectivity. As a matter of fact, Transit Wireless and the four major wireless carriers claim that they have already made 4G and Wi-Fi available in more than 70 subway stations located in and around the areas of Queens and Manhattan.