Tube passengers will soon have access to high-speed mobile connectivity as they travel throughout the network, as Vodafone and Virgin Media O2 have joined the BAI communications network, Sadiq Khan the Mayor of London confirmed today. Customers of these mobile operators will be able to utilise high-speed 4G and 5G-ready mobile connectivity across the Tube, including within the tunnels.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said:
“Improving the capital’s connectivity and digital infrastructure is central to London’s economic recovery from the pandemic, so I am delighted that Vodafone and Virgin Media O2 customers will now have access to high-speed mobile coverage when travelling on the Tube.
“I committed to Londoners that I would deliver 4G throughout the Tube network as part of my determination to build a better London for everyone – and I have no doubt that this will transform journeys for millions of passengers.”
In June 2021 Transport for London (TfL) awarded BAI a 20-year concession to deliver mobile connectivity on the underground. This partnership has outlined aims to provide customers with the ability to make calls wherever they are on the Underground, check the latest travel information, keep on top of their emails, catch up on social media and live stream videos. As the rail industry recovers in the post-pandemic climate, providing services such as these can entice passengers to return to rail travel for their daily commutes. Encouraging transformation to the customer experience through technological innovation will also help in London’s transformation into a smart city.
The collaboration with BAI will also provide an enhanced standard of safety for passengers and staff across the network, as a neutral mobile platform will host the new Emergency Services Network (ESN). This will give first responders immediate access to life-saving data, images and information in live situations and emergencies on the frontline.
The successful implementation of 4G coverage across the Tube network will require intensive infrastructural development, with works well underway following the transfer of the previous pilot section on the eastern end of the Jubilee line to BAI earlier this year. Positive progress now means that the next five stations to get coverage – Bank, Oxford Circus, Tottenham Court Road, Euston, and Camden Town - will go live within the next six months.
Stations and tunnels across the Tube Network are set to see some sections go live by summer 2023, including portions of the Central Line and stations through the City and West End. TfL and BAI are also continuing to progress with delivering mobile coverage across the recently opened central section of the Elizabeth line between Paddington and Abbey Wood.
Mobile operators will also ensure continued and improved coverage via Wi-Fi on the London Underground and Elizabeth line when the network transfers to BAI in April 2023.
Billy D’Arcy, CEO of BAI Communications UK, said:
“We’re delighted to welcome Vodafone and Virgin Media O2 to our network and to reach another key milestone in our work to build a backbone of connectivity across the capital. Staying connected is more important than ever, and we are proud to be working with our partners to offer 5G-ready connectivity which will transform the way people move and work in the capital, allowing them to travel more smartly, safely and securely.”
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