Cell Service in downtown tunnels, coming to Beacon Hill
Sound Transit is thrilled to provide the latest wireless technology to our Link Light Rail passengers and commuters that rely on mobile devices to remain connected to family, friends and work. Sound Transit has partnered with Mobilitie, the largest privately-held wireless infrastructure provider in the United States, to bring seamless mobile wireless coverage to commuters across the greater Puget Sound region traveling with Sound Transit.
Mobilitie completed installation of cell service in the tunnels and stations from UW to downtown last fall. Cell service in the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel from Westlake Station to International District Station starts March 28 with AT&T and Verizon coming online in the next few weeks. Service in the Beacon Hill tunnel will roll out later in 2017.
Sound Transit is not responsible for service issues. If you have issues with your service, contact your service provider.
Free Wi-Fi internet access is available on Sounder trains
Wi-Fi service is provided through cellular service so expect some network loss in 'dead zones'.
Wi-Fi is not a secure access.
Sound Transit's onboard mobile Wi-Fi has limited bandwidth that is shared among all the users on your train. Please be courteous to your fellow internet users by limiting your use of streaming audio and video.
NOTE: At any time, this free service may not be available despite the Wi-Fi icon on the Sound Transit vehicles.
How will I get cell service underground?
Mobilitie has installed a Distributed Antenna System (DAS) to enhance coverage and meet high-capacity wireless service. DAS systems allow for multiple carriers and frequencies, so everyone can get the connectivity and speed they need.
When can I start experiencing these benefits?
Riders have been able to get underground cell service in U-Link stations since the summer of 2016. Starting in March 2017 service in the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel began with service in the Beacon Hill tunnel rolling out later in 2017.
Will it work with my phone carrier?
The DAS will provide service to most wireless operators and mobile devices, including T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, AT&T and other carriers in addition to virtual carriers such as Consumer Cellular, TracPhone, Walmart etc. Mobilitie plans to roll out future deployments with additional network service providers down the road.
What is the roll-out timeline?
The remainder of the cell service rollout will happen in 2017:
- Phase 1 - U-Link (Available now) - U-Link will cover the Capitol Hill and University of Washington stations, and all of the tunnels between them, as well as tunnels from Capitol Hill and Convention Place;
- Phase 2 - Downtown Tunnel (Began March 2017) - Coverage in the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel (DSTT) include cell service in the tunnels and at all stations from Westlake Station to International District Station;
- Phase 3 Beacon Hill (Late 2017) - The project will round out with the Beacon Hill station, to be completed in late 2017. Beacon Hill will cover the Beacon Hill station as well as all the tunnel traffic leading in and out of it.
With each new location that gets deployed, T-Mobile will be the first service network provider available for riders to connect to, followed closely by Verizon Wireless, AT&T, and other carriers.
NOTE: The above timelines reflect the latest (Dec. 19, 2016) schedule estimates. These schedules are subject to change based on available resources and the need to maintain regular Link service.
Who should I contact if I have coverage problems?
Users experiencing connection issues should contact their respective carriers directly with any questions or concerns.
Will it cost me to use my phone? Will there be any roaming charges?
No. There will be no additional costs to users for accessing the network beyond whatever existing carrier rate plan is already applicable for mobile usage.
What kind of bandwidth and performance can I expect?
Users can anticipate good or better service underground, as the network has been designed specifically to provide service to transit riders.
Does this mean I can get Wi-Fi underground?
Although there is not a separate public Wi-Fi network, users can access Wi-Fi if they utilize a MiFi, personal hotspot, or similar device/capability that connects through the DAS network.
The exception here is King County, which has separately started to provide free Wi-Fi at all four DSTT stations that users can connect to before/after boarding trains.
Will the system support future generations of services, such as 5G?
Yes, the system has been designed to support future generations of services.
Who is paying for the DAS system? Is this costing taxpayer money?
This deployment will not cost citizens or transit riders any tax dollars; Mobilitie is paying for the build-out, maintenance, and operations of the entire DAS system.
Will geo-location services like Google Maps work on my phone work underground?
Some of Sound Transit's stations are open air, allowing for a strong GPS signal, while some are deep underground and may have trouble connecting to one. The GPS signal service is completely dependent on the station in which commuters are trying to connect and will not in any way be affected by Mobilitie or this deployment.