The expansion of mobile phone coverage in the London Underground is expanding, with five stations confirmed to go live within the next six months.
At the moment, coverage for all mobile networks is available in the Jubilee line tunnels between Westminster and Canning Town, and TfL has confirmed that Bank, Oxford Circus, Tottenham Court Road, Euston, and Camden Town will be the first stations to gain coverage as part of the network expansion.
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 BAI Communications at no cost to TfL, while TfL will also earn revenue from the contract over its 20-year lifespan. Since the contract was signed, BAI has been upgrading the Jubilee line’s trial network to a permanent one before then expanding phone coverage across the rest of the London Underground.
Once those first five stations are live, TfL says that further sections of the tube network will go live by summer 2023 – including stations across the City and West End on the Central line. 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.
At the moment, although all mobile networks support coverage in the Jubilee line, that’s a legacy of the trial agreement, and only Three and EE had previously signed agreements to expand their coverage across the rest of the London Underground. TfL has now confirmed that both Vodafone and O2 have also signed up to support expanded coverage on the rest of the tube.
In addition, it’s been announced that the Wi-Fi network in the stations, which was originally installed by Virgin Media will be transferred to BAI to operate on behalf of TfL from next April.
Shashi Verma, Chief Technology Officer at TfL, said: “I’m delighted that all four major mobile operators are set to provide high-speed, uninterrupted 4G coverage on the Tube. We are working hard with BAI Communications to get the next stations completed by the end of the year so our customers can benefit as soon as possible.”
All stations and tunnels across the Tube network are expected to have mobile coverage by the end of 2024.
BAI’s neutral host mobile network will also host the new Emergency Services Network (ESN), which will give first responders immediate access to life-saving data, images and information in live situations and emergencies on the frontline.
Across the wider Connected London programme, BAI anticipates investing more than £1 billion on establishing a backbone of mobile and digital connectivity for London. A full-fibre network will also be delivered that will connect to buildings and street assets, like traffic lights and lampposts that house small mobile transmitter cells to improve 4G and 5G phone coverage.