WATCH: A report to the city outlines plans to have cell service and WiFi accessible across the entire LRT line. Emily Mertz explains.
EDMONTON – A report set to be presented to Edmonton’s transportation committee on Nov. 13 outlines plans to expand WiFi and cellphone coverage along the entire LRT route.
The report comes in response to a July request from Mayor Don Iveson.
He wanted city administration to find out what work – if any – had been done on cell phone and WiFi coverage in LRT stations and tunnels. He also wanted to know what the opportunities and risks of enabling more coverage were, particularly when the LRT is underground.
The report found that currently, cell reception in LRT stations is “limited.”
Apart from the Churchill and Central stations – in which Bell customers have coverage thanks to an extended contract with Edmonton Transit – it is poor.
However, the city is speaking with providers interested in providing cell and/or WiFi coverage on LRT platforms.
“As part of those discussions,” the report says, “the city is also exploring options to extend the coverage into the LRT tunnels themselves, thus enabling LRT riders to have continuous voice and data services through the duration of a trip.”
The city is hoping to have the coverage in place at LRT stations in late 2015.
Passengers who spoke to Global News were pleased to here about the plan.
“It would make it a lot better,” said one commuter at the Health Sciences station. “A lot of my errands and business are downtown. It’s kind of irritating when there’s no cell reception or you’re hovering on one bar.”
“Cell phones are attached to everybody. It’s like another appendage,” he added. “Having it more accessible will… better the experience, and attract more.”
“It would definitely be something that I’d be interested in,” said another passenger. “When you’re making a phone call, it’s really annoying when it gets cut off as soon as you go underground.”
A third LRT user said end-to-end service would be nice, but isn’t a necessity.
“It would be more convenient, I guess, if there was WiFi in the tunnels, but that’s about it,” she said.
The report explains the city is working with providers to use existing communications infrastructure, where possible, to offer service in the LRT tunnels.
It says the city would have to make sure WiFi and cell service don’t interfere with the LRT system’s frequencies.