Friday, February 27, 2009

Not Just Verizon Anymore!

If you've always wanted more people talking on their cell phones inside Metro, you just got your wish. Metro just announced:
"riders will be able to call home from any cell phone, access the Internet from any Web-enabled cell phone and eventually have Wi-Fi access in the rail system, under an agreement approved Thursday by Metro’s Board.
Four major cell phone companies -- Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel, AT&T and T-Mobile -- will build a new wireless infrastructure in the underground rail system during the next four years."

According to the release, the wireless contract will generate a minimum of nearly $25 million during the initial 15-year term and an additional $27 million during the five, two-year renewal terms. We hope that's the case. Let's also hope they don't half ass it like NYC tried by allowing service only in the stations!

Good job Metro! You were a trailblazer in 1993, and this is certainly promising.

We thought the timing of this announcement was interesting since we just asked Metro yesterday about why Verizon had the monopoly. This is the answer delivered just this morning:

Thank you for your inquiry concerning cellular phone service and Metro. Verizon is the only current cell phone provider in the tunnels because Verizon was the only firm which decided to make the considerable investment necessary to provide that service. Other cell firms would be welcomed to establish service in the tunnels. WMATA is currently working to implement a procurement process which will, in due course, establish the infrastructure to carry cellular service by all major providers. We hope to be in a position to award a contract soon. Please be advised, however, that this will be an enormous, and very expensive, construction project which will probably take several years to complete. Thus, while the process to expand cellular service is well underway, it will be some time before customers will be able to utilize those expanded services. I hope this information helps to address your inquiry.

WaPo wasn't asleep after all.


Anonymous said...

I haven't seen this reported anywhere yet. Good job!

Michael said...

Great! WMATA had been getting only $27,000 per year from Verizon thus far, now it's over $1M.

Only $26M to go.

Anonymous said...

This is great news as far as internet service goes - among other things, this will make it easier to jump on the NextTrain service on WMATA's website and find out if you are going to make your connecting train or not.
But I wish it were limited to internet - I'm not looking forward to hearing more people yelling into their cell phones. At least now they usually say, "I may lose you because I'm on the Metro," and often, thank God, they do.

Anonymous said...

WMATA will never deliver the intended product, a safe reliable subway system (80% of its business), bus system, and elevator/escalator system at reasonable costs, until the composition of the BOD is overhauled. There is little to no appreciation of the absolute necessity to maintain the systems; the BOD eyes have been on "new projects" to keep their constituients happy, farm out work to the turnstyle consultants (who love to contribute to re-election campaigns btw) while cutting knowledgeable brain trust WMATA staff to provide the APPERARNCE of cutting costs. Now they have made your run of the mill supervisors, who earn less than the represented employees (who provide the authority with stability and continuity (unlike management)) they supervise, AT WILL employees. And Catoe said he wants the best and the brightests....glad that "yes man" not a leader, is gone, but the hard work will be finding someone to take a position in cesspool he left in his wake. IF the DC region wants a great subway system they need to embrace the typical majority of employees, throw out the BOD and bring in Fed or true business people to make key decisions (and eliminate the politically driven waste that plagues the Authority) then hire a GM who will lead them to that end rather than be a simple yes man in attempts to destroy the organization's structure and with it the brain trust that built and up until about 3 years ago were permitted to effectively maintain the system.

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