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Successful trial means Tube on track for 4G coverage by 2019

The Tube network will see 4G connectivity arrive in 2019, TfL has confirmed, meaning mayor Sadiq Khan’s original ambitions will be able to go ahead.

The news comes following a successful trial of the technology on the Waterloo & City line, where 4G technology was tested in tunnels and stations along the line in the summer.

All four major mobile network operators were involved in the design of the trial, with two carrying out testing within the tunnels outside of customer hours.

The trial tested making mobile data calls from one station to another without losing reception, and allowed TfL to practice laying new fibre cables within stations and tunnels.

Following the trial, all active test equipment was removed from the stations and tunnels.

Theo Blackwell, London’s chief digital officer, called the initiative brilliant, adding: “TfL’s innovation shows we can make a real difference and benefit Londoners through using city-wide public assets in a smarter way, starting with the Tube.”

Commercial director of TfL Graeme Craig added: “The success of this trial shows that we are on track to unlock one of the UK's most high-profile not-spots and deliver 4G mobile coverage throughout our tunnels and Tube stations.

“This is great news for our customers and will also help us generate vital commercial income to reinvest in modernising and improving transport in London.”

TfL began early market engagement with suitable service providers in September this year in order to better understand how a 4G mobile network could be introduced across the Tube.

The engagement, which received 22 responses, is being used as part of its business case for its telecoms commercialisation strategy.

Tendering for a service provider will begin in the New Year with a Standard Selection Questionnaire, allowing for a service partner to be brought on board by next summer, with the first stations connected from 2019.

Also as part of its digital strategy, TfL is looking into the possibility of collecting anonymised customer data via wi-fi in order to map out passenger flows through the network and better understand how people navigate the Underground. Its chief data officer, Lauren Sager Weinstein, wrote about this ambition in the latest edition of RTM.

Main Photo: william87

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Ian Watkins   27/11/2017 at 12:56

Some of us like somewhere to escape a mobile signal :-) Now we can look forward to people bellowing "I'm on the Tube" Such is progress :-)

Twdiscussed   27/11/2017 at 13:36

The seating in the photograph looks comfortable. Which Tube line is it? Or is it that the woman is using a 4G-enabled tablet?

James Miller   27/11/2017 at 15:04

Crossrail is saying that 4G will be available in the Class 345 trains.I'm not sure whether it is installed yet, as there is always a good signal on the trains between Liverpool Street and Shenfield. But, I was getting a serious good signal on one of Greater Anglia's Mark 3 coaches in the middle of nowhere. 4G is definitely coming!

Andrew Gwilt   27/11/2017 at 20:44

At least it’s better than relying on Wifi. As most stations have free wifi for passengers to check if their trains are running on time and the staff would find useful information on whether trains have been delayed or disruptions on the railway that affects passengers. 4G will soon take over and it will improve the reliability of its services for passengers to access the internet much quicker without any problems.

IC2000   29/11/2017 at 19:48

4g may be better, (sometimes) faster and more importantly more reliable than WiFi but it is not free at the point of use which WiFi generally is.

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