City officials want to bring 4G wireless service to Chicago's nearly 12 miles of subway tunnels.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel and CTA President Forrest Claypool said a request for proposal has gone out to qualified vendors to upgrade the existing system, which dates back to 2005.
The city owns the underground infrastructure, which covers the 11.4 miles of tunnels on the Red and Blue lines, as well as the underground pedestrian walkways that connect lines and nearby buildings. It leases that cellular network to six major wireless service providers in a deal the city says generates about $1.8 million in annual revenue for the transit agency.
"I am completely committed to investing in all aspects of our public transportation infrastructure, from rails to stations to wireless access, which will encourage ridership growth and economic opportunity," Emanuel said in a statement.
The project will be funded, officials said, by the CTA's annual capital program with continued revenues expected from the wireless providers.
Service classified as 4G typically provides data speeds that is about 10 times faster than 3G.