CHICAGO - The Chicago Transit Authority struck a $32.5 million deal with four telecommunications companies to finance the upgrade of wireless phone service in the authority's subway system to a 4G network.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced on Friday the deal brokered by the Chicago Infrastructure Trust. The 4G coverage will run through all subway stations and tunnels and is expected to be completed this year.

T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint are the four providers that will finance the design and construction of a next-generation Distributed Antenna System to support a 4G wireless network.

"This is another way that we are investing in a modern CTA to encourage ridership, make Chicago more economically competitive, and open up more economic opportunities to more residents throughout the city," Emanuel said in a statement.

The CTA has planned to fund the entirety of the project through its annual capital program, but then began working with the trust on a privately financed model.

The CTA awarded a contract to design and install a system to Aldridge Electric, Inc. at its July 16 board meeting. The agency expects that the 4G wireless project work will begin as soon as November 2014. The current 2G system was installed in 2005.

The CTA owns and licenses its subway cellular network to six major wireless service providers, generating $1.8 million of annual revenue.

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