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Why does my cellphone get such good reception in the underground PATH downtown?

Why does my cellphone get such good reception in the underground PATH downtown, but not in the subway?—Ivan Marks, Liberty Village

Underground is generally an area non grata for cell users, but Telus, Rogers and Bell have solved that snag by installing a special network of antennas throughout the complex universe lurking beneath our city’s downtown. Unlike normal city cell towers, which loom above neighbourhoods and broadcast signals across a one-and-a-half-kilometre radius, the underground system uses small ceiling-mounted antennas every 150 metres or so. Sometimes you can see them poking down from the roof tiles—they look something like sprinklers.

The fact that we don’t have similarly great coverage in the subway can be attributed to TTC heel dragging. But now that Washington and Montreal subway stations have installed the mini-antennas, it looks like progress may soon be upon us. If all goes well, rocket riders will have service on the platforms by 2009. Just don’t expect to chat on the trains themselves: the city fears hundreds of yakking riders per train would make the better way even more insufferable than it already is.

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