London transport officials in early-stage talks to bring mobile coverage on to underground

 
Billy Bambrough
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Around 500,000 phones, tablets and laptops connect every day to the network downloading some 20 terabytes of data (Source: Getty)

The London underground could be getting mobile coverage after it emerged Transport for London (TfL) is in talks with several potential providers.

The discussions, still in their early stages, are thought to involve a division of the US networking giant Commscope, Airvana, which specialises in providing mobile signals in small spaces.

The plans to bring mobile coverage on to the tube are part of a wider overhaul that will see the emergency services bespoke radio network replaced with 4G mobile technology, provided by BT’s EE.

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“We are currently investigating if the provision of a new communications network on the Underground is possible to further improve communications for the emergency services,” a TfL spokesperson said. “We do not currently have plans to introduce mobile phone coverage for customers. The introduction of such coverage would need to be commercially viable and would be subject to consultation with staff and customers.”

The switch-over, which has already been started in the rest of the country, is due to begin in London next year and to be completed by the end of 2020.

Last year TfL and Virgin Media completed a project to install wifi internet at the majority of tube stations around the capital.

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At the end of 2015 it was found that around 500,000, tablets and laptops connect every day to the network downloading some 20 terabytes of data – up seven-fold on 2014.

Customers of Virgin Media, EE, Orange, T-Mobile, Vodafone, O2 and Three can access the network free of charge.

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