O2 Customers Can Get Free Tube Wi-Fi From Today

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 becomes the third operator to provide free Tube Wi-Fi to customers

O2 customers will be able to access the Tube Wi-Fi service free of charge from today, eleven days ahead of the revised 22 July launch date announced earlier this month.

The operator is the third major UK carrier to agree a deal with Virgin Media which operates the Wi-Fi network earlier this year and set an initial target of launching the service in June.

O2 customers who have already signed up to the O2 Wifi service will be automatically connected to the Tube Wi-Fi network each time they enter a connected station.

O2 Tube Wi-Fi

Underground Tube trainThose who aren’t already connected can do so by downloading the O2 Wifi app on iOS or Android or by logging into any O2-operated Wi-Fi hotspot in the UK

“Wi-Fi on London Underground connects thousands of commuters and visitors every single day and we’re delivering a brilliant online experience thanks to Virgin Media’s unique fibre optic network,” said Mark Williamson, Head of London Wi-Fi at Virgin Media. “We’re delighted O2 is on board and helping us keep the majority of Londoners connected at no extra cost.”

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.

Going underground

The service is available at 120 stations, with connectivity available from the ticket halls down to the platforms, and access was free until January when it became available as a pay-as-you go service to non-Virgin Media subscribers or its wholesale partners.

Vodafone and EE have since agreed deals to offer free Wi-Fi to their customers, leaving Three as the only major operator not to have an agreement in place. It is unclear whether Three is in talks to offer access to its subscribers, and the company had not responded to requests for comment at the time of publication.

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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