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O2 Agrees Tube Wi-Fi Deal As Network Expands

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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O2 customers will get free tube Wi-Fi from June as 12 new stations are added

O2 has become the latest mobile operator to sign up as a wholesale partner for Virgin Media’s Tube Wi-Fi service, with customers able to access free wireless Internet on the London Underground from June.

Vodafone and EE have already agreed deals for the network, meaning that Three is the only major UK carrier not to offer its subscribers access at no extra cost. Virgin Media has also added 12 new stations to the network, meaning that the company has reached its target of extending Wi-Fi coverage to 120 stations on London’s subterranean railway.

The new stations are Acton Town, Baker Street, Bank & Monument, Caledonian Road, Earls Court, Holland Park, Ladbroke Grove, Maida Vale, Queens Park, the central line on Shepherd’s Bush, Sloane Square and West Ruislip.

O2 Tube Wi-Fi deal

Tube WiFi Map“We’re excited to bring free Underground Wi-Fi to O2 customers this summer,” said Gary Booker, head of consumer at O2.

“Our customers want to stay connected wherever they are and will soon be able to check their email, update their Facebook status, shop online, book their next holiday and stay connected to their friends and family right across Tube stations in Central London.”

Virgin Media won the much sought-after contract to provide Wi-Fi to the London Underground in March last year, with its wireless network going online in June, just in time for the 2012 Olympic Games.

Internet is currently available on the way from ticket halls to the platforms, but not on the trains themselves.

The service was free until the end of January, after which it became available on a pay-as-you go basis to users who are not customers of Virgin Media or its wholesale partners.

Improving journeys

“Having O2 on board is excellent news for the thousands of people that use the Tube everyday,” added Gareth Powell, director of strategy and service development for London Underground. “Most customers will now be able to access live travel information or use social media to plan their social life while on the move.

“Wi-Fi on the Tube is part of how we are improving services for our customers. 2013 is London Underground’s 150th anniversary, we were at the forefront of technology when the first Underground train ran and this shows how we are maintaining that tradition, using modern technology to improve customers’ journeys.”

Despite the success of the Tube Wi-Fi service there have been calls for mobile coverage to be added to the London Underground. Transport for London (TfL) told TechWeekEurope that although it supported the idea of mobile rollout on the Tube “in principle”, any project should not come at the expense of taxpayers or fare payers and that major UK phone operators had so far been unable to come up with a self-financing solution for voice calls in the deep tube.

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