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May 31, 2017

London tube maps connected future with TfL 4G plans

London's TFL aims to provide 4G WiFi on the tube, while they await bids from telecoms companies after the expected general election.

By Hannah Williams

Transport for London and the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan will be welcoming bids from telecoms companies to provide 4G mobile signal on the tube.

Although internet connection has previously been installed at most Tube stations, being able to make phone calls and access the internet still remains impossible while underground.

With the help of telecom companies providing mobile coverage, it may allow commuters to make calls and also use the internet underground.

William Newton, EMEA Director, WiredScore said: “While a number of stations along the TFL network already offer users WiFi services, full mobile phone coverage will enable users to fully make the most of their time on the tube- whether that’s checking Facebook or replying to emails.

“And with such vast lengths of time on the underground begrudgingly spent by commuters across the city every day, there’s no question that this will be a very welcome improvement to TFL’s service.”

Read more: DeepMind’s AI program learns to navigate London Underground

Companies such as BAI Communications, Wireless Infrastructure Group and Arqiva are among a number of telecommunications companies that are preparing to bid for the work.

It is also likely that BT may also bid, following current discussions with TFL about the Emergency Services Network contract run by EE.

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Tech companies Huawei and Airvana are also said to have previously talked with TFL about installing their kit on the underground, according to the Financial Times.

In an interview with Sky News, a TFL spokesperson said: “We are keen to offer full mobile phone coverage for our customers. The introduction of this would need to be commercially viable and would follow engagement with staff and customers.”

It has not been disclosed how the contract will be set, but it is likely that TFL may enter a deal with the involved telecoms companies after the General Election next week.

Newton said: “This is the latest in a number of government and public sector announcements, committing to improving the digital infrastructure of the nation.

“The Conservative Government announced investments in both 5G and full-fibre in the Digital Strategy and Industrial Strategy, while the Labour Manifesto commits to improving mobile internet and expanding free public WiFi in city centres and on public transport.”

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