Jamillah is the UK Editor for The Next Web. She's based in London. You can hear her on BBC Radio 5Live's Outriders. Follow on Twitter @jemi Jamillah is the UK Editor for The Next Web. She's based in London. You can hear her on BBC Radio 5Live's Outriders. Follow on Twitter @jemimah_knight or drop a line to [email protected]
Virgin Media’s WiFi on London Underground proves to be successful as over eight million tweets, Facebook posts, emails and web pages were delivered during the Olympic Games.
Accessing WiFi on the underground is practically a social holy grail for Londoners. Known for their ability to avoid eye contact at all costs, a good excuse to remain eyes-down in any situation is bound to be popular.
Our own tests didn’t show ideal results for the average impatient Internet sucking commuter, but according to Virgin Media, 443,000 people were online underground for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Given the influx of visitors, tourists and participants, it’s not surprising that the Olympic venues and central tourist destinations – Stratford, North Greenwich, West Ham, Covent Garden, Canning Town and Waterloo – were some of the busiest WiFi enabled stations.
A more permanent signal
Virgin Media is offering free, full internet access throughout the Games and the service is currently available in 72 stations and is to be rolled out to 120 stations by the end of the year.
After this, the comprehensive WiFi portal with TfL travel information, updates and London news and entertainment will remain free for all Tube passengers and Virgin Media broadband and mobile subscribers will continue to enjoy full WiFi access.
In addition Virgin Media is giving mobile operators, internet service providers and others the opportunity to provide this service to their own customers on an ongoing basis and a PAYG service will offer users a way to hop online.
To power the WiFi service, Virgin Media is providing fibre connectivity to each Underground station and London Underground has installed in-station equipment, including on-platform access points, to create a station-wide hotspot
Passengers will be able to get online throughout connected London Underground stations: from the ticket hall, on the escalators and on the platforms. Users will be also connected whilst on a train in a platform but WiFi will not work in London Underground tunnels.
The addition of WiFi is part of a wider scheme to improve the London Underground. Other plans include new track and signalling equipment as well as rebuilding some existing stations. TfL says that the result will be 30% more capacity for passengers.
Naturally that’s going to mean some disruption but at least if you’re stuck in a tunnel, chances are now you might have been able to download something to read while you wait.
So it looks as though the service may be here to stay. With 120 stations connected, there may never be another reason for London’s commuters to talk to each other ever again.
Image Credit: AnnieMole
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