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WMATA to provide cell phone coverage in 20 underground stations


Metrorail riders soon will be able to access four major cell phone providers at 20 busy underground stations, according to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA). Riders currently can receive cell phone service only at above-ground stations.

Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel, AT&T and T-Mobile recently began installing hardware at the 20 below-ground stations and expect to complete work by Oct. 16.

The companies will build, operate, maintain and own the new wireless network, as well as establish a second wireless network that WMATA will own, operate and maintain. The wireless contract will generate a minimum of $25 million during the initial 15-year term and an additional $27 million during renewal terms, according to the transit agency.

“This is the first phase of Metro’s effort to bring expanded cell phone carrier service to the entire Metrorail system by 2012,” said WMATA Chief Information Officer Suzanne Peck in a prepared statement.

After the first 20 stations are converted this fall, the four wireless service providers will install service at the remaining 27 underground stations by fall 2010.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 8/20/2009