Mobile phone coverage on the London Underground reaches the Central and Northern lines

Mobile phone coverage on the London Underground reaches the Central and Northern lines

Mobile phone coverage in London Underground tunnels, currently on the Jubilee line between Westminster and Canning Town, is being extended to part of the Central and Northern lines this week.

The central line between Holland Park and Queensway mobile phone coverage was switched on today as part of a long-term rollout of phone coverage in the deep tunnels.

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. The implications for the virtual operators (MVNOs) stepping back on the big four networks will be for them to decide separately.

Coverage will be in ticket halls and platforms, as well as in tunnels between those stations.

Telecommunications engineers installing equipment (c) TfL

The phone coverage will work in tandem with the station’s existing Wi-Fi service, although Vodafone controversially switched off Wi-Fi coverage on the subway early last year, leaving its customers without any service in subway stations. The Wi-Fi network, originally installed by Virgin Media, will be transferred to BAI to operate on behalf of TfL from next April.

In about a week, the Northern line will also enable telephone coverage in the tunnels between Kentish Town and Archway.

In addition, final testing is underway at some of central London’s busiest tube stations, including Camden Town, Oxford Circus and Tottenham Court Road, to enable them to start offering mobile coverage in the new year.

Once fully delivered, it is expected that more than 2,000 kilometers of cabling will be installed as well as thousands of radios within tunnels and stations, all of which will be installed outside of working hours. Around 500 people are working across the Tube network overnight to install mobile equipment, with the work to be cleared before the network opens to customers each morning.

The aim is to deliver full coverage on the Underground and Elizabeth lines by the end of 2024.

Installation of leaking supply cable (c) TfL

Shashi Verma, chief technology officer at TfL, said: “It’s great that we’ve started to roll out 4G mobile phone coverage to more stations, meaning around ten per cent of our underground stations will soon 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 they shop , attend events and socialize with friends and family. “

The delivery of mobile phone coverage on the London Underground has been signed through a concession agreement so that the cost of installing it will be funded by BAI at no cost to TfL, while TfL will also receive revenue from the contract over its 20-year life. earn.

BAI’s network will also host the Home Office’s Emergency Services Network (ESN), which will replace the existing Airwave system currently used by London’s emergency response teams.

Across the wider Connected London programme, BAI expects to invest more than £1 billion in establishing a backbone of mobile and digital connectivity for London. A full fiber network will also be delivered that will connect to buildings and street assets such as traffic lights and lampposts housing small mobile transmitter cells to improve 4G and 5G phone coverage.

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