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London advances towards 4G coverage on the Tube

Several telcos have signed up for the trial to prepare for the roll-out of 4G across one of London’s most challenging environments.

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Telcos O2 and EE have joined Transport for London’s (TfL) trial to bring 4G mobile coverage to Tube stations and tunnels on the Jubilee line for the first time.


They join Vodafone, who was the first operator to sign up for the pilot in October.

 

The trial, which will go live in March 2020, aims to pave the way for a wider network roll-out across the Underground, providing a signal to the 5 million commuters using the service every day.


The pilot section of the Jubilee line will cover from Westminster to Canning Town, providing connectivity for music and sports fans visiting The O2 venue.

 

Tackling notspots

 

Hundreds of miles of cabling is being installed for the roll-out, which is part of a range of measures from Mayor Sadiq Khan to boost digital connectivity across the capital and tackle London’s areas of poor connectivity.

 

In future, there could also be potential for 5G connectivity in the Tube


Derek McManus, COO at O2, commented: “This unique collaboration builds on the recent announcement of the Shared Rural Network, showing how the telecommunications industry is spearheading a more connected, mobile Britain”.

 

Marc Allera, CEO of BT’s consumer division (including EE), said, “We are delighted to formally join the TfL 4G on the Underground trial. This trial is the start of a huge step forward for London.”

 

Challenging environment

 

Procurement for a concessionaire to facilitate 4G connectivity across the whole Underground network is underway, with a view to TfL awarding the contract in summer 2020. In future, there could also be potential for 5G connectivity in the Tube.


Shashi Verma, chief technology officer at TfL said, “The London Underground network is an incredibly challenging environment in which to deliver technological improvements, but we remain on course for customers to start benefiting from our pilot from March 2020.”

 

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