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O2 UK Joins 4G Mobile Pilot on the London Underground Network

Thursday, December 19th, 2019 (2:35 pm) - Score 2,093
london underground tube

Mobile operator O2 UK has today confirmed that they will work with Transport for London (TfL) to pilot a new 4G (mobile broadband and voice) network through tunnels and at station platforms on the London Underground (tube trains). The operator will join Vodafone, which reached a similar agreement with TfL a couple of months ago.

The TfL project was first unveiled 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“; we assume that means completion somewhere around 2024-2026.

The bad news is that this pilot will initially only take place on the Jubilee Line between Canning Town and Westminster stations, with the service expected to go live from March 2020. As usual the idea of such a limited initial deployment is to iron out any bugs, before extending it across the network.

Hundreds of miles of fibre optic cabling will also be installed as part of the rollout, which is part of a range of measures from Mayor Sadiq Khan to boost digital connectivity across the capital (here). Procurement for a concessionaire to facilitate 4G connectivity across the whole Underground network is said to be “well underway“, with a look to award the contract by Summer 2020.

Derek McManus, COO at O2, said:

“This is a fantastic project for O2 to be a part of and shows our relentless commitment to providing our network to our customers, wherever they are. The pilot will allow us to continue working hand in hand with TfL, and other network operators, to bring connectivity to commuters across London.

This unique collaboration builds on the recent announcement of the Shared Rural Network, showing how the telecommunications industry is spearheading a more connected, mobile Britain.”

We’d be very surprised if Three UK and EE (BT) didn’t join the scheme at some point next year.

Leave a Comment
13 Responses
  1. Avatar wireless pacman says:

    Hard to see why they need a trial, as it’s hardly rocket science.

    Perhaps it’s more of a process/procedure trial than a technical one?

    1. Avatar CarlT says:

      Exactly. Tunnels in the underground are something new to those guys.

  2. Avatar Mark says:

    Shame the networks can’t sort out the areas around the UK with poor or no 4G, London has good coverage, just because you can’t get a signal for a short while while on a train, some have to put up with no signal or 2G all the time.
    .

    1. Avatar Moss says:

      To be fair as someone who is born and bred in London and commute via underground from time to time, I think 4G is a great investment from O2 but I agre with you, they need o do more for every part of the UK.

    2. Avatar CarlT says:

      To be honest multiply the amount of people by the time they are on the tube with no signal. I suspect it comes in significantly higher than the amount of people with no signal 24×7.

      Brutal but factual. Why would they build new masts, buy backhaul, etc, to serve fewer customers than they can by putting cells in tunnels with existing backhaul and power?

    3. Avatar Brian says:

      A lot of the time I think not enough emphasis is put on simply being able to make a phone call if there is an accident and there is a need to summon the emergency services. But that’s a mainly rural problem away from the greater London area, and so is of little importance.

    4. Avatar CarlT says:

      95% of the UK’s entire landmass has mobile coverage. This is very, very good by international standards. Difficult to reconcile with the rural persecution complex from not receiving subsidised telecomms infrastructure via taxpayers or cross-subsidy to match the commercial deployments in cities.

  3. Avatar Mark says:

    Looks like a lot of people suffer from poor mobile reception.
    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/08/08/millions-suffering-mobile-phone-signal-blackouts-areas-lack2/

    I thought OFCOM said it was still half a million who still cannot receive a signal? Probably a lot more, since the maps they rely on can be very innacurate.

    1. Avatar CarlT says:

      Last I checked not being able to receive ‘a’ signal and not being able to receive a 4G signal were different things.

  4. Avatar Mark says:

    Carl IT. No persecution here, we’re semi urban, thousands population in a small Cotswold town, how do propose to rectify the poor or non existent coverage here, since every planning application has been rejected either by landowners pulling out, hundreds of letters of objection and the council cop out ” it’s in a conservation area” so will reject everything, is it really acceptable in the 21st century, to have populated areas having no coverage because the locals stop all progress, planning needs to change, when little villages of 500 population are getting 4G.

    1. Avatar Mark says:

      AONB. Conservation areas landowners and the vocal minority, will stop that. Landowners associations have already objected to it. Some areas need to be protected of course, but keep rejecting due to conservation area, when the area is surrounded by hundreds of 1970s and 1980s houses is a joke. They will only make progress if the government has some sort of compulsory purchase of a small section of land in strategic areas to increase coverage, otherwise it won’t have much effect.

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