London Tube mobile network plans stopped in their tracks

London Tube mobile network plans stopped in their tracks

Plans to outfit London’s Tube service with mobile networks before the 2012 Olympics have been abandoned after the major mobile operators and engineering companies working on the project agreed to halt plans due to funding issues and the limited timeframe to complete the works.

In February we reported that Chinese mobile manufacturer Huawei was reportedly in the final stages of the securing a deal that would see a mobile network deployed on the London Underground in time for the 2012 Olympics. Hauwei was said to be supplying equipment to information systems firm Thales, who would then install and maintain the networks, in cooperation with the UK’s mobile operators.

Transport for London said:

“The mayor and TfL made it clear that, given the financial pressures on TfL’s budgets, any solution would have to have been funded through mobile operators with no cost to fare or taxpayers.

The parties were not able to agree a viable proposal, and the project is therefore not being progressed at this time.”

Whilst it will come as a blow to London Mayor Boris Johnson, plans are underway to expand public Wi-Fi coverage, providing connectivity to 120 stations. Transport for London has said that it will award the contract to the chosen bidder by the end of 2011, widening Wi-Fi provision on the Tube and also making staff networks at 16 stations available to the public.

A spokesperson for Johnson made the following statement:

“We are grateful to the companies who explored the possibility of getting full mobile coverage on the tube, although disappointed the genuine problems encountered could not be overcome on this occasion.

It remains a long-term goal, but our efforts meanwhile will be focused on guaranteeing a major expansion of Wi-Fi coverage in tube stations in time for the Olympics.

We are proceeding with great energy and haste to deliver that improvement, which will mean Londoners can then use their mobile devices to pick up their emails or access the internet while passing through our stations.”

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