Reporting Bob Roberts
CHICAGO (WBBM) – The last major holdout among cell phone firms has signed a contract with CTA to hook up reception in its two major subways.
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The contract, with Sprint, received unanimous CTA board approval Wednesday. But already, transit officials are looking beyond cell phone reception in the State and Dearborn Street subways.
Sprint next year will join AT&T, Verizon, U.S. Cellular, T-Mobile and Cricket, although the Red and Blue Line subways still won’t support Sprint-owned Nextel radio service. CTA President Richard Rodriguez said that is still being negotiated.
Rodriguez said the next telecommunications frontier for the transit agency is on-board wi-fi.
“The buses will be much simpler because we already have GPS and have wireless communications on our buses,” he said.
“Nothing is impossible on a train. Other transit agencies are looking to do it. Other places have the ability to do it. So, I think as technologies advance, so will we.”
Rodriguez said any such technological advancement in CTA’s subways will require an infusion of something it lacks — money. He said achieving on-board wi-fi service may require an investment from a corporate partner, and said CTA would be eager to discuss such deals.