Beacon Hill Station

When the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel finally got cellular phone service last March, the tentative expectation was that the Beacon Hill Tunnel would follow later this year. University Link has long had it, so Beacon Hill is the last segment that drops calls and freezes page loads.

ST spokesperson Kimberly Reason told me earlier this week that cell service there is now scheduled for mid-2018 “to allow for design modifications for the power infrastructure.” So for a few months longer, you’ll be forced to read dead trees or talk to your neighbor for at least a few minutes on every trip.

26 Replies to “Beacon Hill Cell Service Slides to Mid-2018”

  1. University Link still doesn”t have celullar service for Sprint phones. Neither does the DSTT. Can you please acknowledge the incomplete rollout in this news, or better yet ask transit officials why this is the case? They keep giving individuals the run around.

    1. Still no Sprint signal on my iPhone 6. Brought it over from FL, so possibly different frequency bands being used?

      1. Sigh. For the third time in this thread, that has already been ruled out in the case of my phone.

    1. Either earlier this month or last month, two other Sprint customers reported the same issue. I use an LG G5, with has more bandwidths available than 99% of the smart phones out there, and I get nothing. If I may ask, what brand is your smartphone (I am bug hunting).

      1. Possible that it’s an issue with a gap in supported LTE bands ? The tunnel deployment could be using different spectrum than what Sprint typically uses.

      2. Spectrums are determined both by phone hardware and carrier. The LG G5 accesses more spectrums than a Samsung Galaxy S8. There is effectively no gaps in its spectrum. It is why I chose this phone.

      3. Josh, the bug is on Mobilitie’s end. I’ve already sent my phone in to be checked. The LG G5 Reddit won’t help me.

  2. Not surprising that an old tunnel, designed in the pre-smartphone era, would require the most work to retrofit for cell service.

    1. I assume it wouldn’t take as much work to serve cell phones, but the newer nG datastreams (where n increases every couple years, if not faster) are pushing the boundary of necessary hardware.

      1. I don’t know if I buy that line of reasoning. Newer LTE standards are designed for dense deployments, and the industry converging on these standards allow for carriers like Verizon to deprecate odd-duck protocols like CDMA. Newer standards also have better channalization and signaling protocols than the old ones – allowing more active data users in a single cell.

        I’d assume in the tunnels they’re using the same “leaky coax” technology at the RF layer as other underground cell systems.

        The needed changes are probably pretty boring – not enough conduit In the right place, or similar.

      1. It’s also got a lot more room to work with and probably access to preexisting infrastructure than Beacon Hill does. BH works fine as a station but bar lighting and speakers it’s pretty threadbare.

  3. Haha i have a brand new LG 7 and my cricket service works great in the DSTT and all the way to U of W Station except for Beacon Hill Station.

    1. Cricket Wireless is a wholly owned subsidiary of AT&T, and has nothing to do with Sprint.

      There is no LG G7 yet. The G6 is the most recent model.

  4. Any chance something else electronic has precedence? Over last several years, have been told about two things in this category. A poison gas alarm in the DSTT, and card readers for the Fare Inspectors.

    I know this will get longer ’til we get to Northgate. But not rhetorically, for how many of us is longest blackout really critical? I can think of meetings that lose us phone service longer. Of course I think every device we own and pay for should itself work all the time.

    But it’s really making me very uneasy how many of our skills at memory, prediction, and calculation we’re allowing to get so flabby we can’t think under any life and death condition that kills our phones just before it gets us.


    At least you’ll be able to look down for an hour and come stay alive. Just take a quick look up before you make a break for your car or closest LINK station.


  5. Curious picture selection for this article. I mean, what’s going on there?

    Anyway, I am not surprised by delays. There doesn’t really appear to be any negative consequence for them, so why not?

    1. Steve, there’s one serious consequence about cell-phone use itself so dangerous I can’t believe nobody seems to care about it. Maybe it’s another age thing. In 1968, everybody at least knew about “1984.” George Orwell. English civil servant who used to be a Communist so knew his stuff.


  6. Anyone have success using Verizon? My device still doesn’t pick up a reliable signal from ID to UW.

    1. Mine, neither.

      This model of selling control of public communications ROW in the tunnel to the highest bidder, and then letting the other providers bargain with that bidder to share access, seems a little sketchy.

  7. Brent is correct. Mobilitie built, runs, and maintains the tunnel internet infrastucture, and then they lease access to that infrastructure to the Big 4. This is according to direct email and phone conversations between myself and ST as well as Mobilitie.

    Mobilitie was the highest bidder, and The Big 4 bargained with them. Spint has always been the last holdout, but all of the major carriers have to pay Mobilitie.

    The service is carrier neutral in thst it is a GSM network and not a CDMA network. All of the Big 4 use GSM, but not all use CDMA. Sprint and Verizon arein the process of abandoning CDMA use in the US.

    My phone in particular accesses both GSM and CDMA, (7 and 4 different spectrums, respectively) so either way there are problems with the system.

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