First Elizabeth line stations get high-speed mobile coverage

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Customers on the Elizabeth line received an early Christmas present this morning as four central London stations received mobile coverage for the first time.

The four stations – Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road, Farringdon and Liverpool Street – are some of the busiest in Central London and all now have mobile coverage in the ticket halls, connecting corridors and platforms for the Elizabeth line. The introduction at Tottenham Court Road also means that the whole station now has mobile coverage, with work to expand coverage to the Central line, and then onto the Jubilee line at Bond Street taking place throughout 2024.

The introduction of high-speed mobile coverage means that customers can stay better connected as they travel to and from the West End to shop, meet friends and visit the area’s theatres, restaurants and bars. All four mobile network operators – Three UK, EE, Vodafone, and Virgin Media O2 (VMO2) – are taking part in the rollout, which has already delivered 4G on sections of the Jubilee, Northern and Central lines.

Providing uninterrupted mobile coverage also provides additional reassurance to those travelling on the network, making it easier for customers to stay in touch with friends and family while travelling. It will also host the new Emergency Services Network (ESN), which when fully operational, will give first responders immediate access to life-saving data, images and information in live situations and emergencies on the frontline.

TfL and Boldyn Networks* will be working throughout Christmas and the early New Year to expand the coverage to further stations on the Elizabeth line, as well as to the tunnelled sections. Recent progress means that Boldyn Networks can now deliver 4G and 5G coverage to the tunnelled sections, rather than just 4G coverage as previously announced. By the end of spring 2024, the whole of the 73 miles of the Elizabeth line from Reading and Heathrow to Shenfield and Abbey Wood via the West End, will have mobile coverage.

In recent months, further sections of the Tube have also been provided with 4G and 5G coverage, which is now available between Holland Park and Queensway as well as between Bond Street and Chancery Lane on the Central line and also between Belsize Park, Archway and Tottenham Court Road on the Northern line. Currently around 20 per cent of Tube stations with platforms that are underground, and therefore usually unable to get a mobile signal, now have mobile coverage. When combined with sections of the Tube which are above ground, this means that around two thirds of the whole network has mobile coverage.

By the end of spring 2024, the first stations on the Bakerloo, Victoria and Piccadilly line will have mobile coverage in stations and within tunnels in central London, meaning that around 40 stations with platforms that are underground, and therefore usually unable to get a mobile signal, as well as connecting tunnels, will have mobile coverage.

Boldyn Networks is also progressing work to bring mobile coverage to the southern end of the Northern line, with the first sections going live during summer 24, and more widely across Central London, with a significant proportion of the entire Tube network (around 80 per cent of stations across the network) and the Elizabeth line, having mobile coverage by the end of 2024.

Tube map showing below ground 4g and 5g coverage, Dec 2023.

Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, said: “I am delighted to see the promise I made of delivering 4G and 5G across our transport network continuing to progress, with four busy Elizabeth line stations – Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road, Farringdon and Liverpool Street joining an ever-growing network of lines and stations with full connectivity.

“The new mobile coverage at these stations will be a major boost for those travelling around London – connecting key business centres and some of the popular parts of Central London and the West End. It will help Londoners and visitors to the capital to better navigate the capital and stay connected underground. Growing numbers of underground Tube stations now have 4G and 5G services, with many more to come as we continue to build a better London for everyone.”

Andy Lord, London’s Transport Commissioner, said: “I’m delighted that the first stations on the Elizabeth line now have high-quality mobile coverage. This is a vital project for London, allowing customers to be more connected underground and get the latest travel information and news, as well as stay in contact with work, friends and families while travelling on our network. Our engineers will be working closely with Boldyn Networks over Christmas and throughout 2024 to expand coverage to more stations and tunnels across London, and we remain committed to having a significant proportion of the entire Tube network connected by the end of 2024.”

During the busy festive season in particular, the ability to seamlessly chart a route from shop to shop, book a last-minute table or coordinate a meeting point with friends and family using mobile coverage underground will be a welcome benefit. And the best part is, upon leaving the station, visitors can continue to save their data by jumping on our super-fast, free street Wi-Fi.”

The project is being implemented by Boldyn Networks, one of the world’s leading neutral host network providers, who was awarded a 20-year concession by TfL in June 2021 to deliver high speed, 5G-ready mobile connectivity across the entire London Underground network. Boldyn Networks, formerly BAI Communications, is installing a fibre backbone across the capital to improve connectivity both above and below ground, bringing wide reaching socio-economic benefits to local businesses and communities.

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. 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.

Image credit: TfL

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