Cell Service Comes to Seattle Transit Tunnels


Vital statistics: $250,000 down, $7,500 per month

Seattle Transit is beefing up cell service in its tunnels beginning this week.

Mobilitie is the installer and is paying transit agency Sound Transit $250,000 plus an additional $7,500 a month, according to a recently signed deal.

T-Mobile customers will enjoy the benefits first, with Verizon and AT&T joining the tunnel service next month, followed by Sprint, in a phased rollout, reports The Seattle Times. Mobilitie is expected to recoup its upfront costs and make a profit through licensing deals with the carriers.         

The improved service begins in a 3-mile area between the University of Washington and Westlake light-rail stations. Cellphone reception in the tunnels will be extended to downtown from Westlake through the International District/Chinatown Station this fall. Cell service is planned inside the Beacon Hill tunnel in spring 2017, according to Sound Transit.

Mobilitie was able to install transmitters and wires in the tunnels of the UW segment before passenger-train service opened in March; downtown and Beacon Hill service will take longer because the installation needs to be completed at night.

The tunnel cell service coincides with increased ridership with the addition of the UW and Capitol Hill stations; the light rail is now carrying 30,000 new passengers a day, reports the Times. Many of those stay underground 11 minutes or more.

The downtown tunnel was built in 1989, and renovated in 2007. Non T-Mobile customers can make 911 calls only until other carriers join the tunnel cell system.

Reader Interactions

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.