London commuters are about to get better connected. Transport for London (TfL) is set to introduce 4G mobile coverage on London Underground from 2019. The move follows a trial on the Waterloo & City line.
The London-wide transport system has been one of the UK’s extensive black spots for mobile connectivity. The new system will allow 4G users to check emails and social media for the first time.
The trial on the Waterloo and City line, which took place in the summer, was supported by all four major operators – Vodafone, O2, Three and EE. They designed the parameters of the trial, while O2 and Vodafone participated in the testing within the tunnels.
The trial has helped TfL work out how 4G reception can be integrated into the Tube network. In addition, the trial also tested how user could make data calls from one station to another without dropping mobile reception. TfL also got practice in laying new fibre cables within stations and tunnels, an element that will become more important during the rollout of digital services. All equipment used in the trial, which took place outside passenger hours, has now been removed.
The next stage will be the tendering process for the service provider who can deliver 4G. TfL is to begin the procurement process in early 2018.
Graeme Craig, director of commercial development at TfL, said: “The success of this trial shows that we are on track to unlock one of the UK’s most high profile not-spots and deliver 4G mobile coverage throughout our tunnels and Tube stations. This is great news for our customers and will also help us generate vital commercial income to reinvest in modernising and improving transport in London.”