Tube 4G: TfL Finally Set To Offer Mobile Coverage On The London Underground

TfL set to invite bids for Tube 4G to rid London of its worst mobile blackspot

Transport for London (TfL) plans to finally offer passengers the ability to use their smartphones in tunnels on the London Underground according to a report.

The absence of mobile coverage on the subterranean railway network has long been bemoaned by commuters, despite the arrival of Wi-Fi on station platforms in 2012, given that other subways and metros around the world have connectivity.

Former Mayor of London Boris Johnson had declared that mobile coverage would arrive on the tube by 2012 – a deadline which was obviously missed – and his predecessor Ken Livingstone asked the industry for pitches back in 2005.


Tube 4G coverage

However according to the FT, current mayor Sadiq Khan and TfL are going to invite bids from telecom operators after next week’s General Election.

Silicon has asked TfL for comment, but has in the past told us it supports the idea of a mobile rollout “in principle” but that a funding model had never been agreed. According to Greater London Authority (GLA) documents, a “number of technologies are being investigated” for tunnel connectivity and above-ground coverage.

It has also confirmed that both Wi-Fi and 4G will be offered on the underground sections of Crossrail, which will operate as the Elizabeth Line, from 2018.

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There is no suggestion as to whether disagreements over the funding model have been resolved or who might bid for the contract. Both Alcatel-Lucent and Huawei have expressed an interest in the past.

The Tube will have to be covered by the new LTE-powered Emergency Services Network (ESN) however. The £1billion ESN, to be built by EE, is set to go live in 2019.

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