O2 Confirms 22 July Launch For Free Tube Wi-Fi

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 misses June target for free London Underground Wi-Fi access

O2 has confirmed that its customers will be able to access the Tube Wi-Fi service free of charge from 22 July, becoming the third major UK mobile operator to agree a deal with Virgin Media.

An initial June target was set when O2 announced the deal earlier this year, but the delay in launch appears to have resulted from the testing process.

An O2 spokesperson said that when the service goes live, it will be open free of charge to all O2 customers. O2 customers who have signed up to O2 Wi-Fi will be automatically connected to the London Underground service.

O2 Tube Wi-Fi deal

Tube WiFi MapVirgin 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.

The service is available at 120 stations on London’s subterranean railway, 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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