Public Wi-Fi, cellular coming to LA transit

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Public Wi-Fi being tested in buses and subway cell build-out underway

The city of Los Angeles Department of Transportation is looking to help keep riders connected by deploying cellular and public Wi-Fi solutions in city buses and subway tunnels.

The city is currently testing Wi-Fi deployments on just nine city buses. Officials are reportedly monitoring customer usage, coverage, reliability and potential for expansion.

To keep riders informed on which buses are offering Wi-Fi, the LADOT is tweeting out updates from the handle @ladottransit.

The subway project considers deploying cellular and Wi-Fi coverage on the red and purple lines between May and August, from Union Station to 7th Street.

After that, attention will shift to the part of the red and purple lines from Westlake to Vermont/Sunset with completion projected in June 2016.

The third phase of deployment will complete the red line and begin work on the gold line with completion set for March 2017.

The conceptualization started in February 2013 when the city’s Metropolitan Transit Authority board of directors awarded a 20-year service contract to provider InSite Wireless LLC.

In a memo to the board, Metropolitan Transit Authority CIO David Edwards notes the potential for delays when dealing with public transit systems.

“The anticipated completion dates are contingent on tunnel availability during the hours when trains are not operating and subject to pre-emption by more urgent maintenance needs. Additionally, the dates assume InSite Wireless is able to reach agreements in a timely manner with major cellular and Wi-Fi providers.”

Earlier this month, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced a $32.5 million investment in connecting public transit systems.

A next-generation distributed antenna system will bring 4G LTE coverage and capacity into the city subway system; the DAS will support all four major U.S. carriers.

About Author

Editor-in-Chief Sean focuses on multiple subject areas including 5G, Open RAN, hybrid cloud, edge computing, and Industry 4.0. He also hosts Arden Media's podcast Will 5G Change the World? Prior to his work at RCR, Sean studied journalism and literature at the University of Mississippi then spent six years based in Key West, Florida, working as a reporter for the Miami Herald Media Company. He currently lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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