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The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) is advancing a plan to improve wireless communications in its subways and underground facilities. At its July 16 meeting, the authority's board plans to vote on awarding a contract to Aldridge Electric Inc. to upgrade wireless service to 4G.An upgraded wireless network would provide continuous, reliable mobile phone service underground in all subway platforms, mezzanines and tunnels, and offer better and more robust voice and high-speed data services, according to the CTA. It also would improve safety by providing more reliable communication between CTA personnel and emergency responders. The network would replace existing infrastructure that dates back to 2005, which is inadequate to support modern wireless data needs, CTA officials said in a press release.The authority is seeking to partner with private-sector entities to pay for all or part of the $27 million project. Work is expected to begin as early as November and take about one year to complete. In the meantime, the agency will keep the current wireless network operational. CTA has 11.4 miles of underground subway, or about 22 miles of individual tunnels, on the Blue and Red lines. The subway system also includes multiple underground passageways that connect rail lines and provide access to nearby buildings.
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