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5G and Seamless WiFI Coming to BART by 2023

BART and Muni are upgrading 11 miles of tunnels and 48 stations to enable WiFi and 5G service.
By - posted 9/23/2020 No Comment

Thanks to CNET for letting us know the latest updates about BART looking to get a serious connectivity upgrade with 5G and “seamless” WiFi coming to its tunnels and underground stations within the next three years. 

Earlier this year, BART unanimously approved a plan to improve cell phone connectivity across the system, and provide seamless WiFi coverage in all stations and aboard Fleet of the Future trains.

Will it actually happen? SFist reminded us that earlier plans to enhance connectivity on BART, such as a 2009 deal with a company called WiFi Rail, ended in disaster and lawsuits with no functioning Wi-Fi even after five years.

Read the full press release

The project will construct new WiFi and Bluetooth infrastructure, and enhance cellular coverage to try to drastically reduce dropped calls, provide reliable connectivity for video and audio streaming while riding and waiting, and allow for improved app functionality, even in underground stations.

BART announced in January of 2020 that the first project will be to add cellular service to three SFMTA (Muni) tunnels: Sunset, Twin Peaks and the new Central Subway.

The underground wireless network will bring 5G connectivity to riders via an antenna system that will be installed across the BART and Muni system in nearly 11 miles of existing tunnels, 11 underground stations and the new Muni central subway line.

To upgrade station and train connectivity, Mobilitie will deploy the latest Wi-Fi technology (Wi-Fi 6 or 802.11ax) throughout 48 stations, including BART’s Fleet of the Future trains that will be fully Wi-Fi enabled. BART is expected to bring connectivity to its entire fleet by 2023. 

The project entails four parts: 

  1. Adding cellular service in three SFMTA tunnels.
  2. Adding WiFi and Bluetooth service in all BART stations.
  3. Wireless service in all Fleet of the Future trains.
  4. Installation of revenue-generating fiber optic cables in BART and SFMTA right-of-ways.

These four projects are expected to generate more than $243 million for BART over 20 years.