A further six London Underground stations will begin offering high-speed mobile coverage to customers, as the next stage of Transport for London (TfL) and BAI Communications’ (BAI) project to bring coverage to the Tube network gathers speed.
Customers travelling between Holland Park and Queensway on the Central line, will start to see 4G and 5G-ready mobile coverage from today (21 December 2022), with coverage between Kentish Town and Archway on the Northern line going live in the coming week. Coverage will be in ticket halls and platforms, as well as in tunnels between those stations, allowing customers to get the latest travel information, access social media, check their emails, make calls, and stream videos whilst on the move underground.
All four mobile network operators – Three UK, EE, Vodafone, and Virgin Media O2 (VMO2) – are taking part in the rollout, with customers on EE and Vodafone able to access coverage from today and customers on Three UK and VMO2 gaining access in the new year. Connecting these six stations marks the next milestone in the introduction of high-speed mobile coverage across the entire Tube network. Together with the existing 4G service on the eastern section of the Jubilee Line between Westminster and Canning Town, which was made permanent in April 2022, around ten per cent of Tube stations with platforms that are underground, and therefore usually unable to get a mobile signal, will be providing 4G and 5G-ready coverage to customers.
Once fully delivered, more than 2,000 kilometres of cabling as well as thousands of radios are expected to be installed within tunnels and stations, all of which will be fitted outside of operational hours. Around 500 people are working overnight across the Tube network to install mobile equipment, with all works needed to be tidied away before the network opens for customers every morning.
During the festive period, further testing is taking place at some of London’s busiest stations, including Oxford Circus, Tottenham Court Road and Camden Town, to allow mobile coverage to start at those stations in the new year. Once live, this will also help the millions of visitors who come to the West End every year to better navigate the capital, make reservations on the move and ensure they can share their experience of London with friends and family. By the end of 2024, all Tube stations, as well as the Elizabeth line, will have 4G and 5G-ready coverage.
The Deputy Mayor for Transport, Seb Dance, said: “Today marks a great step forward in the delivery of mobile connectivity on the Tube, as Londoners will now have increased access to high-speed mobile coverage when travelling through more Tube stations. The Mayor pledged to Londoners that he would deliver 4G throughout the Tube network as part of his commitment to building a better London for everyone – and I have no doubt that this expansion of coverage will help transform journeys for millions of passengers.”
Shashi Verma, Chief Technology Officer at TfL, said: “It’s great that we have begun to introduce 4G mobile coverage to more stations, meaning that around ten per cent of our stations that are underground will shortly be connected. Progress on delivery is accelerating and together with BAI Communications and the mobile network operators we will connect many of London’s busiest stations during 2023 – transforming experience for millions of our customers and helping them stay connected while shopping, visiting events and socialising with friends and family.”
Simon Pitkeathley, Chief Executive of Camden Town Unlimited, said: “As businesses search for increases in productivity, whilst wrestling with the hybrid world, we need connectivity at all times. This move to bring mobile coverage to the Tube is forward thinking and I, along with many regular Tube users, can’t wait for more stations and tunnels to start getting coverage during 2023.”
In June 2021, TfL awarded BAI a 20-year concession to deliver mobile connectivity on the Tube. BAI’s work on the wider Connected London programme will also see the installation of digital infrastructure across the capital, forming a backbone of connectivity. A full-fibre network will connect to buildings and street assets, like traffic lights and lampposts, and leverage the power of 5G and the Internet of Things to drive forward London’s ambition to become a truly smart city.
For more information, visit: www.tfl.gov.uk/get-online
Photo credit: TfL