No more dropped calls, buffered streams? Metro says rollout of cell service across system complete

If you’re taking Metro — which, admittedly, not a lot of people are doing in these pandemic times — you might notice streaming on your device runs more smoothly, and you experience fewer dropped calls.

Metro announced Wednesday it has completed a massive decade-long project to provide wireless service across all 100 miles of Metro tunnels, making it “one of the most connected” rail systems in the country, according to a news release from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.

With the announcement, Metro said it had completed hooking up wireless capability along the final three segments of the rail system — from Dupont Circle in downtown D.C. to White Flint in suburban Maryland on the Red Line; from L’Enfant Plaza to the Pentagon on the Yellow Line, and around Tysons Corner on the Silver Line.

Metro finished linking up the Green Line in December.

The project was undertaken with the major wireless carriers — AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon. Riders can now connect to the networks while traveling in Metro tunnels.

Previously, Metro had added cell service to underground platforms as well as Wi-Fi in all 91 stations.

Providing cell service in Metro’s tunnel also improves safety, the transit agency said, by improving mobile communications for customers and Metro employees and first responders during an emergency.

The project had been in the works for quite a while.

The project was spurred by the 2008 Congressional Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act. When Metro announced the project in February 2009, the transit agency said it hoped to have expanded cell service on the entire rail system by 2012.

All told, the installation process required laying more than 400 miles of cabling and infrastructure across Metro’s tunnel network.

Jack Moore

Jack Moore joined WTOP.com as a digital writer/editor in July 2016. Previous to his current role, he covered federal government management and technology as the news editor at Nextgov.com, part of Government Executive Media Group.

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