x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Wireless internet access planned for Dubai Metro

High-speed wireless internet access is to be made available on the driverless metro project in Dubai.

DUBAI // High-speed wireless internet access is to be made available on the driverless metro project in Dubai, it was revealed yesterday. From next September, the network will allow commuters using the Red and Green lines of the Dubai Metro, a Dh15.5 billion (US$4.2bn) project, to work while they travel. Wireless coverage will also extend to platforms, footbridges and escalators, a Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) spokesman said yesterday.

According to an engineer for the telecom provider du, which is installing hardware to run the wireless system, "every centimetre of the Dubai Metro will have internet access". Cables are currently being laid that will enable passengers to maintain their internet connection even if they switch lines. "The actual compartment people are travelling on acts as a router, allowing people with laptops to connect to the internet," he said.

However, people not using the metro will be locked out of the system. Peyman Younus Parham, RTA's marketing and corporate communications director, said further details would be made available in the coming months. The wireless network was designed by Cisco Systems to RTA specifications. Charges, access speeds and extra in-car services such as television screens have yet to be finalised. Residents in Jebel Ali, currently often an hour's drive from Dubai, welcomed the move.

"This means I can leave my car behind and do some work while trying to get to the office - all traffic free," said Dirar Kashleel, a Palestinian accountant, who works in Bur Dubai and lives in The Gardens in Jebel Ali. Jennifer Newman, 27, a marketing manager, who has commuted on Sheikh Zayed Road for two years, said: "It will definitely be more convenient because it means I'll be able to get last-minute work done on my way to the office," she said.

The metro project passed a milestone last month when a 52km Red Line viaduct, which stretches from Al Rashidiya to Jebel Ali was finished after three years of intensive work. Work on the Red Line began in Aug 2005 and since then about 25,000 employees, from engineers to labourers, have been working in 24-hour shifts to meet the four-year deadline on both the Red and Green lines. The metro is the most ambitious part of the RTA's integrated mass transport system, which it hopes will ease the Dubai's traffic and encourage people to abandon their cars.

Recent government figures put the cost to Dubai's economy of traffic congestion at Dh4.6bn a year. After the metro's Red and Green lines are in place, the RTA's rail agency will start building the Purple and Blue lines. The rail agency aims to build 318km of metro lines and 270km of tram lines by 2020. shafez@thenational.ae