I thought perhaps I was gong crazy when I noticed that my iPhone still displayed several “bars” by the time I took my seat on the Metro yesterday evening. But the mobile browser was working even as the train pulled away from the station — now I know why.
Mobile service has expanded on Metro, to include my phone and several of the stops on my usual route.
Expanded cell phone service is now available in 20 of Metro’s busiest underground stations. As of 5:30 a.m. today, October 16, Metrorail riders are able to use three major cell phone providers in addition to the existing Verizon Wireless service to make calls from 20 station platforms. Eventually, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile services will be available from anywhere inside the stations.
“It’s important for Metro customers to realize that, initially, expanded cell phone service is only from the platforms of 20 of our busiest underground stations,” said Metro General Manager John Catoe. “Customers should expect to see continual improvement in their cell phone coverage and call quality as additional enhancements to the wireless network are made.”
“This will really help people communicate. I am glad we are at this point,” said Metro Board Chairman Jim Graham.
AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless have installed hardware at no cost to Metro that will allow Metrorail customers to make calls, send text messages or surf the Web from inside the following 20 stations: Ballston, Bethesda, Columbia Heights, Crystal City, Dupont Circle, Farragut North, Farragut West, Federal Triangle, Foggy Bottom-GWU, Friendship Heights, Gallery Pl-Chinatown, Judiciary Square, L’Enfant Plaza, McPherson Square, Metro Center, Pentagon, Pentagon City, Rosslyn, Smithsonian and Union Station.
During the next few weeks, the team of cell phone providers will continue to enhance the wireless network at these stations to provide callers with continuous coverage from the street into each station. Customers also will have broadband data network access.
Not that I make very many calls while on Metro, but it would be nice to be able to call home and say I’m going to be late, or to get a call from the hubby.