Metro Board considers contract to have cell phone equipment installed in Red and Purple Line station areas

The Metro Board will be considering a contract this month that would bring cell phone and wi-fi service to the subway system in Los Angeles. The Metro staff report on the contract is above.

Once installed, cell service would be available throughout the public areas of the Red and Purple Lines — i.e. the station areas — and the underground portions of the Blue, Expo and Gold lines. 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 contract is with a firm named InSite Wireless. Under the contract, InSite would install the necessary infrastructure and then charge individual cell phone carriers a fee to have their equipment and signal placed underground. Metro, in turn, would make a minimum of $360,000 a year in revenue from those deals — a typical type of arrangement in the transit world.

As for the cell phone carriers, they have a pretty good incentive to put their signal underground — if they don’t do it, one of their competitors may. And in the cell phone business, having the largest service area is a pretty big draw for prospective customers.

The contract will first be considered by the Metro Board’s Executive Management Committee on Thursday. It would then likely go to the full Board for their consideration at their meeting on Feb. 28.

If approved, it would take about two years to get the equipment installed in the tunnels, the challenge being that the subway runs most of the day and night. Cell phone service would be completed first with wi-fi coming later; keep in mind that the internet can be accessed via cell signals.

16 replies

  1. This should have been done 13 years ago. Wayyyyyyyyy overdue. The sheriff’s hotline numbers are listed in every train car, but how does that help? It doesn’t.

  2. Not to nitpick, but the headline “Metro Board considers equipment to have cell phone equipment installed in Red and Purple Line station areas” … first instance of “equipment” should be changed to “contract”

    • Yikes — thanks for catching that. Clearly hadn’t had enough coffee when wrote that this morning. Double yikes!

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  3. After experiencing this in Boston, I can only imagine how insufferable it will be to have other passengers jammed-up next to me, all yelling into their cellphones.

  4. There’s no point to all this if you cannot get service on the actual train and deep in the tunnels. Isn’t that where crime is most likely to occur???????? How much is the wi-fi service going cost? And using data?

  5. Does the public areas mean that there will be cell service in the tunnels themselves while the subway is in transit? The article makes it sound like it will only be limited to the stations though can be interpreted to wherever passengers are (also while in transit). Really it is about time, BART had cell service (3G with at&t) in the transbay tube underwater, and I was amazed at how the service was handled on that journey. My hope that this will be comprehensive service built for the future, with existing technology but also the faster data LTE network in the tubes, so that it can handle the load that will certainly take advantage of this. I would hope also that the contracted company building this out will be able to finish ahead of schedule, as two years is a long time considering that the subway is shut down in the night time to allow for maintenance.

  6. It is so noisy now in the subway, now we are going to have idiots yelling in the cell phone. Oh well.

  7. Please don’t. One of the best things about the red line is that people are not yelling on their phone. Please spend the money else where.

  8. NG, Metro is to -make- money from this, not spend it.

    BTW, I think that this will bring more riders into the fold.

  9. I really, really don’t want to listen to other people on their cellphone on the subway. I already have to do that on the bus. Maybe while the train is in motion, it should be limited to text messages only. And emergency calls.

  10. Hey George,
    In theory, a text only rule would be great. But would it be enforced anymore than the no-playing-music-out-loud, and the no-soliciting rules are?