The big 4 carriers will bring LTE to Chicago’s subways

4G services are finally coming to Chicago’s subways. Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile are collectively installing a $32.5 million LTE upgrade in the Chicago Transit Authority’s 22 miles of subway tunnels, allowing commuters to continue chatting, streaming and gaming when they go underground.

As a Chicagoan I know the frustration of losing your smartphone connection when your train car dips below ground level, but you non-Chicagoans may be asking yourselves “Chicago has subways?” Yes: While the name of the Chicago metro train system is the “L”, which is short for “elevated,” Chicago’s two main lines go underground for about 20 stops when they approach downtown.

That means for many L riders, the last 10 or 15 minutes of the commute becomes a wireless dead zone, forcing you to deal with the reality that you’re in a train packed wall-to-wall with other people. When the carriers complete the upgrade – targeted for the end of 2015 — we should be able to continue surfing to our hearts’ content.

[company]T-Mobile[/company], which is taking the lead on the project, will coordinate the construction of a distributed antenna system (DAS) throughout Chicago’s tunnels. Then all four of the operators will connect their networks to it. You can think of a DAS as a cell tower broken into its component parts. Instead of putting a cluster of antennas at the top of a mast, T-Mobile will install individual transmitters throughout the tunnels, which will connect back to a central location called a base station hotel somewhere in the depths of the city. The carriers will all install their network gear in that hotel.

This isn’t the first DAS to appear in Chicago’s subway. Allgon Telecom built a 2G network in Chicago’s subway a decade ago, but the voice-centric system barely worked then and it’s next to useless now. Hopefully, this long-needed upgrade will finally fix Chicago’s underground dead zone problem so we can return to the warm embrace of our smartphones at the end of our commutes. What else are we going to do? Talk to each other?

Moovit, the Waze of public transit, rakes in another $50M

The meteoric rise of Waze was a huge success story for the Israeli tech scene, and the country is now aiming to repeat that success with another crowdsourced transportation company – this one focused on public transit rather than individual drivers. Moovit has raised a $50 million Series C round, bringing its total funding to $82 million.

Nokia Growth Partners, BMW i Ventures, Keolis, Bernard Arnault Group, and Vaizra Investments all participated in the round along with existing investors BRM Group, Gemini Partners and Sequoia Capital.

Moovit

Like Waze, Moovit relies on its community of commuters to report on the state of a city’s bus, train, metro and trams systems in real-time. Its iOS, iPhone and Windows apps track users as they navigate the transit system and queries them on specific conditions; for example, how crowded a train car or bus stop is. The techniques it uses are very similar to accident and traffic reporting features on Waze. That not only gives Moovit commuters an idea about delays and possible alternatives to their regular routes, it lets Moovit finely tune its mapping and navigation services for people trying to get where they’re going by public transit.

When we last checked in with Moovit a year ago, it had 3 million members in its crowdsourcing community but in 13 months its grown to 15 million in 500 cities spread through 45 countries.

Verizon goes underground, joining NYC’s subway station coverage project

Three of the big four carriers have already started beaming their cellular signals into the depths of New York City’s subway system as part of the Transit Wireless project. Soon they’ll be joined by Verizon Wireless(s vz)(s vod), which said on Tuesday it will install its base station gear in the 36 stations Transit currently covers. Transit’s ultimate goal is to bring mobile connectivity to all of the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s 277 underground stations by 2016.

South Koreans Want Their Subway TV

Stacey’s words from a year ago are still true, “Mobile video has taken off in a few places such as South Korea and Japan, but for the most part, press releases outnumber the viewers.” Especially in the U.S., where mobile numbers continue to be mini. (Of course when you start talking 2013 the global market estimates skyrocket upward.) But our friends in Korea now seem to be having a different sort of mobile TV problem.

The Los Angeles Times wrote today that Koreans are freaking out because their access to mobile TV in subways may be taken away. Some 10 million Koreans watch TV on a special mobile portable frequency, with no extra fee to watch underground.

Cellular companies pay subway companies $250,000 per year to make use of “transmission network gap fillers” so their customers can watch TV on subways. Now, as part of efforts to cut costs, the mobile networks will probably drop subway service. “I’d feel really bad if it went away,” said 47-year-old homemaker Lee Suk-hee. One TV provider went so far as to say that the government should bail out subway TV.

10 iPhone Apps for Sports Freaks

Back in the day, you used to have to count the hours until your favorite sports team took the field or court, and there was precious little to do in between games. Fortunately, now there are a metric ton of apps in the App Store that help you while away the hours until tipoff or first pitch. Here are my top 10 favorite.

Baseball (free)

baseball4 If you follow baseball, then you know half the fun of the game is talking about player stats. When a player steps up to the plate, guesses on what they are about to do are largely based on what they did during their last at bat, last game, and last season. Keep statistics on each player right at your fingertips with Baseball. Stats go back as far as 1871 so the next time you’re having a friendly argument about whether Evan Longoria is the next George Brett, you’ll have hard, cold data to back you up.

NFL Live (99 cents)

nfl-livePredictably, there are around eleven billion football apps in the App Store. I’ve probably tried most of them, but my top pick for this category is NFL Live. It corrals all the news from ESPN, Yahoo! Sports, and Fox Sports in one place and even features offline browsing. NFL Live tracks scores in real-time and also allows you to email links right from the App.
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Korean Subway to Put Regenerative Braking to the Test

Ultracapacitors are getting a trial run on the South Korean subway system, with San Diego’s Maxwell Technologies (s MXWL) announcing today that its ultracapacitor energy storage systems will be used in a regenerative braking demonstration by the Korean Railroad Research Institute.

A regenerative braking system can save the kinetic energy from braking for later use in acceleration, or feed that energy back into the grid. It’s also being used in some hybrid and electric cars, as well as in the development of Formula One racing cars.

According to Maxwell, ultracapacitors, a next-generation battery technology, can offer faster recharge and discharge rates over traditional batteries, making them ideal for regenerative braking systems, as well as for a burst of power for acceleration. Some reports say the technology could have the potential to replace traditional battery systems.

Texas-based EEStor, a stealthy competitor in the ultracapacitor field, has made its own strong claims about the power of its technology, but unlike Maxwell, EEStor has yet to ship any of its products.
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