More of the London Underground has mobile phone coverage after it was switched on in the Central line between Oxford Circus and Tottenham Court Road, and which areas will get coverage next have been announced.
Today, mobile phone coverage has been switched on in the Central line tunnels between the Oxford Circus and Tottenham Court Road, and also inside Tottenham Court Road tube station’s ticket hall and escalators, as well as on the Northern line platforms.
At the moment, along with the Jubilee line between Westminster and Canning Town, there is also phone coverage in the Central line between Holland Park to Queensway and the Nothern line between Archway to Kentish Town.
Currently more than 10% of tube stations with platforms that are underground, and therefore usually unable to get a mobile signal, now have 4G and 5G mobile coverage.
- Holland Park
- Notting Hill Gate
- Oxford Circus (Central line only)
- Tottenham Court Road (Central and Northern lines only)
- Tufnell Park
- Kentish Town (station closed but 4G will still be provided for passing trains)
- Camden Town
- Mornington Crescent
- Waterloo (Jubilee line only)
- London Bridge (Jubilee line only)
- Canada Water
- Canary Wharf
- North Greenwich
When combined with sections of the tube which are above ground, this means that around 60% of the whole network has mobile coverage.
Looking ahead, the Charing Cross branch of the Northern line at Euston station will also get 4G and 5G coverage in the coming weeks, and Transport for London (TfL) has outlined which areas will be next to get phone coverage by the end of this year.
In the coming months, further stations along the Northern and Central lines such as Goodge Street, Chancery Lane and Bank will get mobile coverage.
Initial testing will also shortly begin on the Bakerloo, Victoria, and Piccadilly lines ahead of the installation of technology along these lines to allow 4G and 5G to start being introduced on these lines later this year.
By the end of this year, 33 stations with platforms that are underground, and therefore usually unable to get a mobile signal, as well as connecting tunnels, will have mobile coverage, increasing to more than 40 stations by next Spring.
In addition, the Elizabeth line stations at Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road, Farringdon and Liverpool Street will get coverage by the end of this year, with all stations and tunnelled sections getting coverage by the end of Spring 2024.
The southern end of the Northern line should also start to see the first sections going live next Summer.
TfL says that it expects a significant proportion of the entire tube network (around 80% of stations across the network) and the Elizabeth line, to have mobile coverage by the end of 2024. A few patches are expected to take longer to connect though, mainly a few of the shorter tunnels outside the centre of London, and a few areas on the Circle and District line where some signal already exists, so they are lower priority for the upgrades.
Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, said: “I am delighted to see the promise I made of delivering 4G and 5G across the London Underground continuing to progress, with West End hubs Oxford Circus and Tottenham Court Road joining an ever-growing network of line and stations with full connectivity. This means Londoners and visitors can now access the latest travel information or social media, check their emails, make calls, and stream videos whilst on the move underground. Growing numbers of underground Tube stations now have 4G and 5G services, with many more to come as we continue to build a better London for everyone.”
The delivery of mobile phone coverage on the London Underground was signed via a concession agreement so that the cost of installing it will be funded by Boldyn Networks (formerly BAI Communications) at no cost to TfL, while TfL will also earn revenue from the contract over its 20-year lifespan.
The existing contract with Boldyn Networks was for the London Underground, but the Mayor of London has now approved expanding the contract to improve coverage on the DLR and London Overground.
That will see improved coverage on the DLR, and within the tunnels, and on the London Overground between Highbury & Islington and New Cross due to be switched on within the next two years. The company is also upgrading the trial network that was installed on the Jubilee line to add 5G coverage to the existing 3G and 4G services.
Around 500 people are working overnight across the London Underground network to install mobile equipment, with all works needed to be tidied away before the network opens for customers every morning. Once fully delivered, more than 2,000 kilometres of cabling as well as thousands of radios are expected to be installed within tunnels and stations, all of which will be fitted outside of operational hours.
The wider Connected London programme being delivered by TfL and Boldyn will also see the installation of digital infrastructure across the capital, forming a backbone of connectivity. The network will also host the Home Office’s Emergency Services Network (ESN), which will replace the existing Airwave system currently used by London’s emergency response teams.
Although the London Underground lags behind other countries in offering mobile phone coverage in the tunnels, it is one of the first in the world to start offering 5G coverage.