Broadband News

Mobile plans for London's Tube put on hold

Enabling mobile phones to work deep underground on London's ancient tube network has long been a desire for both mobile networks, users and the city itself, but a recent announcement of a £50m gift of hardware from Chinese manufacturer Huawei has not helped progress the plans into fruition. Negotiations between Transport for London (TfL), the mobile operators and engineering firm Thales, who would install the system have broken down over financial and technological aspects. Due to constraints on TfL's budget, the mobile networks would need to fund the work required to get the network installed, and it's likely that this is a stumbling block as to why progress hasn't been made.

"The mayor and TfL made it clear that, given the financial pressures on TfL's budgets, any solution would have to have been funded through mobile operators with no cost to fare or taxpayers.

The parties were not able to agree a viable proposal, and the project is therefore not being progressed at this time."

Transport for London statement

The aim to enable mobile coverage on the tube does remain a long-term goal but it's likely that Londoners will have to wait a few more years at least before this will happen. Other proposals to enable Wi-Fi access at tube stations is still set to go ahead, with 120 stations due to be live before the 2012 Olympic Games.


IMHO data, and therefore wi-fi, is more important, more useful. Given the noise levels in carriages in tunnels, it is difficult to believce you'd be heard on your mobile by the person you were talking too without having to share every last word with the rest of the carriage.

Syncing email every couple of minutes, each time the train pulls in to a station, will make longer journeys more productive. Above ground, noise levels are lower and mpbile signals work anyway so not so much of an issue.

  • New_Londoner
  • over 9 years ago

You are right about data, but IMO the data part of the mobile network would be the most useful part of such a system that is deployed. Blanket coverage is obviously more preferable to just stations. Will be interesting to see whether they just do platforms or all over the station.

Many tube stations now have digital billboards which require some form of data connection, so connectivity is probably available through much of the station, but the maze of corridors at some stations would probably be difficult to cover.

  • john
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • over 9 years ago

The likely delay will upset anyone wanting to remotely ignite a bomb on the tube network.

  • gajohnson
  • over 9 years ago

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