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London to provide connectivity across the Underground network by 2024

Through a contract with BAI Communications, a backbone of mobile and digital connectivity will offer connectivity and internet access within every Tube station and tunnel.

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The digital connectivity programme tackles one of the UK's most high-profile not spots
The digital connectivity programme tackles one of the UK's most high-profile not spots

Travellers on London Underground will be able to access full mobile connectivity and internet access within every station and tunnel by 2024.

 

Transport for London (TfL) has awarded a 20-year concession to BAI Communications (BAI) which will enable mobile coverage on the whole underground network, helping to remove one of the most high-profile mobile not-spots in the UK.

 

Customers have been able to access 4G on the eastern half of the Jubilee line since March last year.

 

Phased approach

 

The concession will see a backbone of mobile and digital connectivity established across London and will be expanded in phases to ticket halls, platforms and tunnels on the Tube network over the next three years, with all stations and tunnels slated to have mobile coverage by the end of 2024.

 

This will allow customers to check the latest travel information, keep on top of their emails and the latest news, catch up on social media, watch videos, or make calls throughout their journeys.

 

“I promised Londoners that if they re-elected me for a second term as mayor I would deliver 4G throughout the Tube network,” said Khan. It’s already up and running on the eastern half of the Jubilee line and I’m delighted to announce that I am fulfilling that commitment and full internet access will be available across the Tube, with key central London stations such as Oxford Circus and Euston set to benefit before the end of next year.”

 

“Protecting jobs and stimulating our city’s economy is a top priority for me as London rebuilds after this pandemic, and investing in London’s connectivity and digital infrastructure is central to this.”

“London Underground was born in the 19th century, and this concession to deliver mobile coverage to the whole Tube network ensures it continues to adapt for customers in the 21st century”

London’s Tube tunnels will also be used to provide full fibre connectivity across the city, which can then be connected to buildings and street assets like street lighting and bus stops. This will help to further increase mobile coverage through small mobile transmitters, as well as leveraging the power of 5G to deliver city-wide improvements and future growth.

 

The new high-capacity fibre network will bring fibre directly into London’s neighbourhoods, creating new opportunities to serve homes and businesses with gigabit-capable speeds and supporting digital inclusion.

 

BAI, which was awarded the concession after a competitive tender process, is a leading global provider of 4G and 5G connected infrastructure. The agreement will build on its BAI’s experience of deploying communications networks in highly dense urban environments across the world, including New York, Toronto and Hong Kong. The neutral host network will be available for use by all mobile operators and the infrastructure will also be 5G-ready.

 

Additional revenue

 

The London Underground network is one of the world’s largest underground networks and prior to the pandemic was used by more than five million passengers a day. Once fully delivered, more than 2,000 kilometres of cabling are expected to be installed within tunnels and stations, all of which will be fitted outside of operational hours.

 

In addition to benefiting customers, providing 4G on the network will generate additional revenue for TfL across the 20-year length of the concession, as well as helping operational teams by providing better connectivity while underground.

 

Work will begin to prepare some of London’s busiest stations for mobile connectivity, including Oxford Circus, Tottenham Court Road, Bank, Euston and Camden Town, ahead of them being some of the first to be connected by the end of 2022.

“Protecting jobs and stimulating our city’s economy is a top priority for me as London rebuilds after this pandemic, and investing in London’s connectivity and digital infrastructure is central to this”

“London Underground was born in the 19th century, and this concession to deliver mobile coverage to the whole Tube network ensures it continues to adapt for customers in the 21st century,” said Shashi Verma, chief technology officer, TfL. “Providing mobile connectivity to customers within the tunnels and on platforms across London will help them stay connected more easily, and will both provide a long-term revenue stream for TfL and support economic growth across the city.”

 

Since March 2020, TfL has been running a pilot of mobile connectivity on the eastern half of the Jubilee line covering station platforms and tunnels between Westminster and Canning Town. The pilot section will now be adopted by BAI, which will work to upgrade any assets to its proposed network-wide design.

 

The network will host the Home Office’s new Emergency Services Network, which will replace the existing Airwave system currently used by the Police, Fire Services and emergency response teams across Great Britain. TfL said it has ensured that the latest requirements for the Emergency Services Network are fully incorporated and addressed within the network design.

 

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