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EE UK Joins 4G Mobile Pilot on the London Underground Network

Monday, Dec 23rd, 2019 (3:06 pm) - Score 2,821
Young black woman sitting inside the underground on the mobile phone

As expected EE (BT) has today announced that they will next year be joining O2, Vodafone and Transport for London (TfL) to help pilot a new 4G (mobile broadband and voice) network through tunnels and at station platforms on the London Underground (tube trains).

The TfL project was first officially announced in July 2019 (here) and aims to make 4G services available across the whole of their London Underground (tube trains) network by the “mid-2020s“, although initially this will only take the form of a limited pilot along the Jubilee Line between Canning Town and Westminster stations (once the bugs have been worked out they’ll extend it).

At the same time hundreds of miles of new fibre optic cabling will also be installed alongside, which is part of a range of measures from London Mayor Sadiq Khan to boost digital connectivity across the capital (here). The pilot is due to begin in March 2020 and procurement for a concessionaire agreement to facilitate 4G connectivity across the whole of the underground network could be ready by Summer 2020.

Marc Allera, CEO of BT’s Consumer Division, said:

“We are delighted to formally join the TfL 4G on the Underground trial, connecting our customers between Westminster and Canning Town. This trial is the start of a huge step forward for London.”


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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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16 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Gary says:

    4G ? I know we’re not at the desired coverage for 4G yet but hopefully they’re building with an eye to the 5G future.

    1. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      I bet you the kit they install post-trial will do 5G as well as that’s usually how these things work.

    2. Avatar photo Gary says:

      Hi Mark Indeed, I was thinking more of the underlying infrastructure given the range difference of the technologies.

  2. Avatar photo CarlT says:

    Paging folks complaining about coverage in rural areas / lack of 4G to foxes and forests.

    1. Avatar photo Mark says:

      Carl IT What a silly comment. It’s not all rural. Objections and councils play a big part, no foxes or forest here. Just A roads, B roads,tarmac and concrete, nearly 2000 properties, 700 letters of objection against last mast planning application.

    2. Avatar photo Gary says:

      Ignore him Mark, Carl feels that only city dwellers deserve Government expenditure, everyone else that costs a little more should pay for it themselves.

    3. Avatar photo Sergiu Leho says:

      Not just lack of 4G,lack of signal 3G and 2G aswell,from 2 months when I moved with them I don’t have signall in Colchester in some areas near to the town centre which is ridiculous in a city town

    4. Avatar photo CarlT says:

      No, Gary, I’m fine with the market deciding for the most part. I would rather government funding be kept out of much of these things as it can distort the playing field.

      I don’t feel any more entitled to government funding in this regard than you are, though feel significantly less entitled than you do by the looks of it.

      Mark: it was a fairly lighthearted comment after a post on TfL 4G produced zero comments on the actual article and loads of complaints about 4G.

  3. Avatar photo 5G Infinity says:

    Mark, who will own the hundreds of miles of new fibre being installed to support this, where is it being installed and will it be eholesy, open access?

    1. Avatar photo Matthew says:

      TFL i believe will own it and i would assume open access

  4. Avatar photo Phil says:

    Not sure it really provides much benefit having 4G on the London Underground, or having any mobile signal for that matter. The journey times are usually pretty quick people are not out of touch for long, plus the trains are so noisy having a phone conservation isn’t very pleasant or easy. Given the nature of undergrounds and the large number of people, having people not on their phones or devices is surely a good safety measure as well as speeding up throughput.

    Wi-Fi for data makes more sense, with a large majority of devices still having the ability to place calls using Wi-Fi calling or other similar apps that work over data, so people are not cut off.

    Just seems like EE are feeling the need to keep up with the other networks, or by providing “coverage” allows them access to the tunnels so they can run fibre around the city more easily, with coverage in the Underground being the price they pay to get access.

    1. Avatar photo Occasionally Factual says:

      WiFi doesn’t scale well. And has been trialled over many years by TfL.

      Given that at peak times there can be in several thousand people in the major tube stations, you need a technology that can cope with peak demands.

    2. Avatar photo The Facts says:

      Leaky feeders.

  5. Avatar photo Matthew says:

    Basically making the underground part of everyone’s mobile phone network just like everywhere else will mean people can use there phone as normal. Best solution WiFi isn’t as flawless a switch.

  6. Avatar photo Packet Switched says:

    Absolutely, The sooner WiFi is junked on public transport and the 4 Networks enabled the better: the big
    reason is you just can’t readily use it as you naturally would wether because it is just too clunky and cumbrous or because
    the browser says “NOT SECURE”. Nor do I find the extraordinary expectation that anyone even an advanced specialist of
    a contract lawyer could possible be sure there is nothing in some careful words you are are by legal convention deemed
    to have fully understood before you press enter.

    As a distress purchase avaiiable in extremis one might not object to WiFi being available but it can hardly between the
    awkwardness and the insecurity expect it too be commercially successful. I an so glad that Tfl evidently see its crippling

  7. Avatar photo TheOne says:

    privacy invading and snooping TFL decided to track everyone using their wifi network by logging unique phone data per handset… they claim it’s to help them ‘improve’ service (lol yeah right!).

    how will the phone data etc be kept private, as we cannot trust TFL not to track users… this creepy data collection needs to be looked into before people use these services

Comments are closed

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