Virgin Media will bring Wi-Fi to London's underground stations this summer with 80 to be enabled with free Wi-Fi before the Olympic games and another 40 by the end of the year. After the Olympics, TfL travel information will continue to be free, whilst full Internet access will be available on a pay-as-you-go model and through other commercial options.
"It's vital that we harness the massive opportunities stemming from the digital revolution, by creating a vibrant, world class industry to attract investment and create jobs for Londoners. Millions of passengers will now be able to connect to their work, friends or access the latest news and travel information whilst on the move. This is a fabulous new and free resource which will be in place from this summer when London is being showcased on a global stage and playing host to millions."Boris Johnson, Mayor of London
The announcement follows a tender that was put out back in March 2011 where TfL had hoped to get 120 of the 260 tube stations connected up in time for the Olympics. With the contract only just being announced, it seems the original aim has been reduced down to just 80 stations. In 2010, BT trialled Wi-Fi at Charing Cross tube station through their Openzone system which was a pre-cursor to this full deployment.
Other options to help get the underground connected included a £50m offer from Huawei to provide equipment that would allow people to use mobile phones underground, but so far no progress has been made in getting things enabled following talks between the mobile networks, TfL and Thales (the engineering firm that would install the kit) broke down.
Update 7pm: Some of the first stations to be covered by the Wi-Fi service are expected to be London Bridge, Oxford Circus, Stratford and Liverpool Street.