No phones on Tube as talks fail

 
Steve Dinneen
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PLANS to provide a mobile phone signal on the London underground in time for the Olympics have collapsed.

Sources close to the deal told City A.M. that the sheer complexity of the project means there is no way it can be completed in time for the Games.

The collapse also jeopardises a £50m “gift” from Chinese telecoms giant Huawei. The firm had offered to supply heavily discounted equipment for the project as a goodwill gesture to the next Olympic city.

However, it is not clear whether Huawei will remain involved with the project if it is resurrected after the Olympics.

A joint statement from the operators said: “We have been working closely with infrastructure partners and London Underground for some time with the hope of delivering mobile services to the London Underground and are disappointed that it will not be possible to deliver such services in time for next year’s Olympic Games. As a group, we will continue to positively explore all other avenues available to us in order to provide a service at a later date.”

Huawei and the four UK mobile network operators are understood to be millions of pounds out of pocket after investing heavily in development.

It is understood the collapse was not linked to Boris Johnson’s insistence that public money should not be used to fund the project. A separate project to install wi-fi access in 120 stations is not affected.