Life on the Tube is about to get slicker and more connected for some customers – although sadly the upgrades don’t cover the trains themselves.
This is about mobile connectivity, with the news that Vodafone and Virgin Media O2 customers getting access as all mobile network operators join TfL’s roll-out of a 4G and 5G-ready mobile network.
Now customers of all four mobile network operators – Three, EE, Vodafone and Virgin Media O2 – can dive into Wordle on the way home, with no blackout in the tunnels. So expect more customers to be barking, “I’m on my way home! I’m near London Bridge!” between stations.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said, “Improving the capital’s connectivity and digital infrastructure is central to London’s economic recovery from the pandemic, so I am delighted that Vodafone and Virgin Media O2 customers will now have access to high-speed mobile coverage when travelling on the Tube. “I have no doubt that this will transform journeys for millions of passengers.”
BAI Communications was awarded a 20-year concession by Transport for London (TfL) in June last year to deliver mobile connectivity on the Underground. “Once complete, customers will be able to make calls wherever they are on the Underground, check the latest travel information, keep on top of their emails, catch up on social media and live stream videos, transforming the passenger experience and securing London’s transformation into a smart city. Work on delivering 4G coverage across the Tube network is well underway, following the successful transfer of the previous pilot section on the eastern end of the Jubilee line to BAI earlier this year.
4G roll-out continues
Bank, Oxford Circus, Tottenham Court Road, Euston, and Camden Town will go live within the next six months. All stations and tunnels across the Tube network remain on course to have high-quality and uninterrupted mobile coverage. Some sections of Tube network will go live by summer 2023 – including parts of the Central line including stations and tunnels through the City and West End.
TfL and BAI are also continuing to progress with delivering mobile coverage across the recently opened central section of the Elizabeth line between Paddington and Abbey Wood. Mobile operators will also ensure continued and improved coverage via Wi-Fi on the London Underground and Elizabeth line when the network transfers to BAI in April 2023.
Across the wider Connected London programme, BAI anticipates investing more than £1 billion on establishing a backbone of mobile and digital connectivity for London. A full-fibre network will also be delivered that will connect to buildings and street assets, like traffic lights and lampposts that house small mobile transmitter cells to leverage the power of 5G and the Internet of Things. These can then be used by boroughs, academics and developers to deliver improvements in everything from air quality and traffic congestion to public safety and city planning.
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