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“Metro announced a list of 30 underground stations that will have free customer Wi-Fi service by the end of the year”

by Prince Of Petworth April 19, 2017 at 1:45 pm 12 Comments

metro wireless
Photo by PoPville flickr user nevermindtheend

From WMATA:

“Metro and the nation’s leading wireless carriers – AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless – today announced the availability of wireless voice and data service in the first tunnel segment on the Red Line. Metro riders traveling between Glenmont and Silver Spring can now enjoy uninterrupted wireless access when traveling between these stations.

The wireless carriers previously installed wireless service in all of the Metro underground stations. Working together, the latest tunnel segment is the second portion of the system to have wireless service, following the segment between Potomac Avenue and Stadium Armory on the Blue, Orange and Silver lines, which was activated in December 2016. As a result of the new wireless coverage announced today, a Metro customer can now travel from Glenmont to Silver Spring with an uninterrupted wireless signal.

Metro is installing special cable along 100 miles of tunnel walls to support wireless service as the transit agency also installs the infrastructure needed for a new radio system for trains and emergency responders.

“Customers have told us that they want the ability to stay connected while on Metro, and we are pleased to have worked with the wireless carriers to deliver this service,” said Metro GM/CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld. “I look forward to announcing the activation of additional tunnel segments in the months ahead.”

The process of installing the wireless cable in Metro’s tunnels requires weekend track outages to allow crews and contractors to drill special brackets along the walls. Under a new approach that maximizes efficiency, cellular cable is being installed concurrently with Metro’s new radio system. Once the cellular cable is mounted and secured, the cable infrastructure is turned over to the wireless carriers to install the electronics needed to connect and optimize their networks. Wireless service on Metro is funded, operated and maintained jointly by the carriers.

Also today, Metro announced a list of 30 underground stations that will have free customer Wi-Fi service by the end of the year. Currently, six stations already have Wi-Fi – Metro Center, Gallery Place, L’Enfant Plaza, Judiciary Square, and Archives. The additional 24 stations are:

Smithsonian
Farragut West
Crystal City
Dupont Circle
Rosslyn
Clarendon
Court House
Navy Yard-Ballpark
Waterfront
Anacostia
McPherson Sq
Foggy Bottom-GWU
Farragut North
Cleveland Park
Van Ness-UDC
Tenleytown – AU
Friendship Heights
Bethesda
Medical Center
Mt. Vernon Sq
Shaw-Howard U
U Street
Columbia Heights
Federal Center SW

Metro will announce Wi-Fi availability as each station is activated. All remaining underground stations will have Wi-Fi by mid-2018.

Metro’s Wi-Fi service is in addition to existing cellular service (already available at all Metro stations) enabling customers to make calls, send text messages, and access the web.”

  • Cleveland Park runner

    This is such a stupid diversion. I’d think nearly every person who rides the metro would rather they focus on the failing rail service than wifi. Although if it means people can get help instead of die in a train, maybe that’s okay. But heaven forbid people be away from facebook for their commute.

    • BryceHarperMVP

      Providing Wi-Fi means they’re not focusing on the rail service?

      • Cleveland Park runner

        Every minute they focus their attention on something other than fixing their atrocious rail service is a minute they aren’t focusing on fixing their atrocious rail service.

        • Leeran

          +1. Metro’s in a death spiral.

          Later this summer waits headways will permanently increase and fewer trains will run every single weekday, but they’re spending resources adding wifi to the stations.

    • BlueStreak

      1) Reliable wireless service in the stations is a safety issue. People need to be able to contact emergency services etc. This is true in the tunnels and in the stations.
      2) It seems that they are laying this down in conjunction with the radio wire, which is definitely also needed for safety purposes, as one of the issues with the L’Enfant death was that emergency responder’s radios didnt work, IIRC
      3) While other stuff is important, making the trains more comfortable/easier to ride is important too. I imagine that more people would ride if the knew they could have an uninterrupted internet signal for their whole ride. And more rider means more money, which Metro desperately needs.

      • FridayGirl

        “1) Reliable wireless service in the stations is a safety issue. People need to be able to contact emergency services etc. This is true in the tunnels and in the stations.”
        .
        Well, yes, but I think there’s an argument to be made that wifi and cell service aren’t the same. However, if they’re doing it while they’re doing something else so that it’s essentially a bonus to already-existing work, I’m cool with that.

        • BlueStreak

          Well part of this is getting service in the tunnels, where there is no service, so I think that’s important. And what requires work during shutdowns. As far as the wifi in the stations, I don’t think that takes away from anything because it shouldn’t require stopping the trains and it is installed and paid for by the wireless carriers. So it’s free for Metro and makes transit more enjoyable for the riders. I’d be upset if they didn’t do this.

  • stcohi

    Who cares about WiFi just make the trains run. I’m sick of having to unload at Mt. Vernon Sq. each evening, or sputter and stop and go each time I take the metro.

    • LittleBluePenguin

      + a million. Sigh. I’ve given up hope at this point, I’m almost more embarrassed by Metro than I am by the guy squatting in the White House. Almost.

  • Traveler

    “Metro’s Wi-Fi service is in addition to existing cellular service (already available at all Metro stations) enabling customers to make calls, send text messages, and access the web.” –> Metro’s cell service is terrible.

  • Dude

    But are they encrypted hotspots? Don’t use them unless they’re encrypted by WPA-2.

  • crayons

    The Wi-Fi and wireless service are separate projects. As someone who commutes 2+ hours per day, it will be really appreciated to have wireless service on the trains for carriers other than Verizon, and this is years overdue. The wi-fi I find less useful, but it is convenient to have while waiting 15+ minutes for an evening or weekend transfer.

    However, I really do wish they would primarily focus on reliable service, I can’t recall the last time I could actually rely on trains running on a set schedule. The Mt Vernon / U Street terminations cause so much delay during rush hours. And so often I see three Silvers go by without a single Orange. But at least the wireless service will help pass the time when metro breaks down underground and we’re stuck waiting.

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