Boris in advanced talks with mobile firms over getting signal on the Tube

MAYOR of London Boris Johnson is nearing an agreement with the UK’s biggest mobile phone operators to provide a network signal on the entire Tube network by the time the Olympics come to London in 2012, it emerged at the weekend.

Johnson is still in discussions with the companies over the final details of funding for the project, which City Hall reiterated yesterday would need to be borne entirely through mobile operators with no cost to fare or taxpayers.

However, the preferred option is thought to be an agreement whereby the UK’s five largest mobile operators – Vodafone, Orange, O2, T-Mobile and 3 – would share the cost of installing the project.

While technically possible to install network equipment in the deep-level underground tunnels and stations, project costs have so far proved prohibitively high.

The Greater London Authority said yesterday that finding a solution “remains dependent on the market providing a credible proposal that satisfies both technical and commercial considerations”.

Johnson’s predecessor Ken Livingstone also held talks with phone operators over installing a Tube network, but the plans never came to fruition. At the time, he said the winning operator would have to pay TfL for the privilege.