French firm says mobiles on underground will add £1.1bn to the UK economy
Alcatel-Lucent is reportedly in talks to provide mobile coverage to the entire London Underground network, in the latest attempt to bring connectivity to the tube.
The deal will apparently cover all tube stations and trains, unlike the Wi-Fi network recently launched by Virgin Media, which only provides connectivity to platforms.
“I’m on the tube”
Ben Verwaayen, chief executive of Alcatel-Lucent apparently disclosed the information, saying that the company wanted to make it possible to use mobile devices while travelling on the underground, adding that the ability for workers to make calls and read emails on the move would be worth an estimated £1.1 billion to the British economy.
Once rollout is complete, Alcatel-Lucent will introduce a number of features aimed at assisting travellers with their journey, such as real-time travel information.
The move follows a number of failed attempts to bring mobile coverage to the tube. TfL abandoned its plans to provide it by the 2012 Olympic Games last year after admitting that some potential backers had pulled out when asked to fund the scheme.
There were also concerns that it would not be completed on time, despite the promise of a £50 million investment from Chinese firm Huawei to help provide a service before London 2012.
Despite these failures, Virgin Media launched an Underground Wi-Fi service last week that will be extended to 80 stations before the beginning of the games and 120 by the end of 2012. It will only be accessible from station platforms themselves and will only be free to all customers until the conclusion of the Olympics. After this period, only customers of Virgin Media and other selected networks will continue to receive access without any additional cost.
The Cloud has won a separate deal to provide Wi-Fi connections to all 56 stations on the London Overground network. Commuters will receive 60 minutes of free Internet a day and, unlike the Virgin Media service, will remain free after the Olympics.
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