Customers on London Underground will be able to access full mobile connectivity and internet access within every station and tunnel, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has announced.
Transport for London (TfL) has awarded a 20-year concession to BAI Communications, which will enable mobile coverage on the whole Tube network, helping to remove one of the most high-profile mobile ‘not-spots’ in the UK.
The concession will see a backbone of mobile and digital connectivity established across London. Uninterrupted 4G mobile coverage has already been introduced on the eastern half of the Jubilee line 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 due to have mobile coverage by the end of 2024.
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 such as lighting and bus stops. This will help to further increase mobile coverage through small mobile transmitters, as well as using the power of 5G to deliver city-wide improvements and future growth.
BAI has experience of deploying communications networks in urban environments across the world, including New York, Toronto and Hong Kong. It says the neutral host network being delivered as part of this concession will be the most advanced of its kind in the world and available for use by all mobile operators. The infrastructure will also be 5G ready, allowing for a seamless upgrade for mobile operators in the future.
TfL has already begun installing the necessary cabling within a number of stations and tunnels to help reduce the need for additional closures and ensure mobile connectivity can be introduced more easily. This includes cabling already installed on the Jubilee and Victoria lines, as well as within the Northern Line Extension. Work will now 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.
Khan said: “I promised Londoners that if they re-elected me for a second term as Mayor I would deliver 4G throughout the Tube network. It’s already up and running on the eastern half of the Jubilee line and I’m delighted to announced today 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.”
Billy D’Arcy, CEO of BAI Communications UK, said: “Our long-term partnership with TfL will completely transform the passenger experience, as well as helping to boost London’s economy and providing social benefits for years to come.
“By building the most advanced network of its kind in the world here, we are helping London leapfrog other major cities in terms of connectivity and ensure that the capital remains the most attractive place for investment. Across the length of this concession, we fully anticipate investing in excess of £1 billion across the Connected London programme.
“We will also establish a new city-wide high-capacity fibre network throughout London and leverage the power of 5G and the Internet of Things to unlock new opportunities for technological innovation. Our extensive credentials delivering large-scale connected infrastructure and networking solutions position us perfectly to capitalise on the fast-growing commercial appeal of 5G enterprise solutions and smart city applications.”