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Vodafone UK Quietly Scrap London Underground WiFi Support

Thursday, June 17th, 2021 (1:54 pm) - Score 15,576
london underground tube

Mobile operator Vodafone UK has quietly dropped support for Virgin Media’s (VMO2) Wi-Fi network on the London Underground, which means that customers who want to get online with this wireless broadband service will now have to pay for a pass instead of connecting for free (1 day = £3, 1 Week = £5 or 1 Month = £15).

At present around 260 London Underground stations are covered with WiFi as a result of Virgin Media’s deployment some years ago, which was also made available to customers of Vodafone, EE and O2 via way of a wholesale agreement (customers of VM can of course also benefit). Meanwhile, anybody else has to pay for a special pass.

However, a number of Vodafone’s customers recently noticed that they could no longer access the service, which prompted one of their support agents to issue the following response via Twitter (here).

Vodafone’s Twitter Support said:

“We have taken the decision not to continue our WiFi service on the London Underground. We continue to supply 4G on the Jubilee Line between North Greenwich and Westminster as part of our partnership with London Underground.

We also continue to invest in our network above ground across London, with coverage improvements at key stations, including Charing Cross, London Bridge and Waterloo in particular.”

The move makes sense given the work they’re doing on the Jubilee Line (here). On the other hand, Transport for London (TfL) has previously stated that their ambition is to extend such 4G services across the whole of the Underground (tube trains) network, but this won’t be complete until the “mid-2020s” (c.2025).

As one of several disgruntled customers said in response, “Why didn’t you tell us, We pay for a service and this was part of the services available. Of course, if I’d known, I would have changed provider. I only found out when I asked at a station.”

A related report (here) suggests that Vodafone might have started to drop WiFi support on the underground two months ago, although people only recently started to notice after they began returning to work. Meanwhile, Virgin Media’s WiFi page continues to list Vodafone as being supported (here).

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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 Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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25 Responses
  1. Keithy says:

    Have Three been dropped too?? It used to work. Although its been a looong while since I’ve used the tube due to covid!

    1. tinker says:

      No, Three still have it. Surprised Mark didn’t notice as there’s a dedicated page on the Three website for it.

  2. Connor says:

    The operator list seems a bit outdated anyway considering it lists Orange and T-Mobile customers which I don’t even think exist anymore as well as Three not being on the list.

    1. Nick says:

      It is on the list, when you want to connect you select other networks and you will find Three.

  3. Randy says:

    It’s practically useless anyway. Doesn’t work in the tunnel, if you’re using it on the tube then by the time it joins the network the train has departed the station. It’s only good if you’re sat on the platform and since most tube trains arrive in 1 or 2 minutes, what’s the point ?

    1. Chiggles says:

      If you end up stuck on a platform due to a delay you can inform people you were due to meet of that, or if they’re tracking you on Citymapper or the like it updates your position on the journey. It has its uses. Sometimes it’s also just enough time for your instant messages to filter through so you can compose replies in the tunnels and press send so they go out at the next stop. It’s definitely handy.

  4. ConcernedMumOfUnderground5G says:

    Amazing how people can’t stand to be disconnected for more than 10 mins these days…

    1. CarlT says:

      It’s good to have the choice. Sometimes every moment needs to be productive.

    2. Ben says:

      I think it’s perfectly reasonable for folks to be disappointed that services were removed from their mobile contracts without a corresponding reduction in the monthly cost. Would you not be disgruntled in this situation?

    3. Jonny says:

      I used to work in London (technically I guess I still do, but haven’t been in for over a year) and the Wi-Fi on the tube was a feature I specifically wanted when picking networks, along with iPhone-specific stuff like visual voicemail and Wi-Fi calling on iCloud devices. I would be quite annoyed if I had picked Vodafone and they removed it.

    4. MikeP says:

      When travelling from Canary Wharf to Waterloo to get my train back to deepest darkest Devon, it was extremely useful to monitor realtime trains and opentraintimes to see when the incoming service for my train would arrive. And whether it was on a different platform from booked – very likely if there was “perturbation”.
      The Interwebs isn’t all social meeja. It serves very useful realtime information services.

  5. Aaron says:

    I noticed this morning that Vodafone WiFi was missing when I got on the tube at Turnpike Lane.
    Not really a problem, it is handy but only worked when it felt like it .
    I am a virgin media customer so used my credentials for Virgin and it worked .
    To be honest, Vodafone 4G coverage is a much better idea! Hurry up Vodafone

  6. DG says:

    I noticed this weekend too. I was able to connect on Saturday, and by Sunday the VodafoneWifi network had vanished. It’s immensely disappointing as it’s something I had valued, and the jubilee line 4G trials are very obviously NOT a replacement (not available throughout stations, limited to one line). Vodafone should definitely be reconsidering this as not only is it annoying, it’s one of the reasons I stayed with the network, and the fact they’ve changed their offering without any notice is disappointing.

  7. Nick says:

    This is the first sign that the merger of O2 and Virgin Media will cause problems with competition and I’m sure this has something to do with Vodafone dropping the service.

    Yes O2 and Virgin Media don’t really overlap but combined it will cause problems with competition hurting consumers with price rises and making services such as WiFi on the London Underground to its rivals a heavy loss meaning Vodafone would have no choice but to drop the service.

    1. André says:

      I don’t see how it hurts competition. Any of the other networks are free to deploy a rival service, surely? By the sounds of it, it seems like they’re doing just that.
      The WiFi on the tube is simply becoming a USP for Virgin/O2, which is fair enough.

    2. Mark Jackson says:

      Indeed, if the plan is to deploy 4G across the underground network, then it makes less sense to spend on WiFi. But there’s still a question mark over why they chose to end the agreement now, rather than once that 4G service has actually achieved good coverage.

  8. User says:

    It was rubbish anyway, never connected properly, constantly had to remove network, add again, it was worse than 11b wifi 1

  9. Akshay says:

    Is there any way to leave Vodafone without a fee for this decision? I only took out a Vodafone Pay Monthly deal because of this availability, I consider it an essential service.

    1. Spurple says:

      Call them and tell let them know and see what they say.

  10. Leo says:

    While in Moscow and Kiev tubes there is signal even in the tube underneath, let alone stations. And all for free.

    1. Laurence "GreenReaper" Parry says:

      And who do you think is listening to it, and why? When you do not pay, you are the product.

  11. Laurence "GreenReaper" Parry says:

    “Why didn’t you tell us […] if I’d known, I would have changed provider.” – it sounds like they answered their own question.

  12. TM says:

    Long-standing Vodafone customer here, after discovering this on Friday I have now switched to EE. Luckily I was able to end my contract when I wanted to.

  13. R Samuels says:

    I am near the end of a 2 year contract with Voda. I complained to them when I discovered thi, last week. It’s very useful in stations for wifi calling and messaging people especially when there are delays. After September I shall seek to change networks (after 10 years with Vodafone).

  14. Randolph says:

    Has anyone successfully managed to leave their contract early without an early termination fee as a result of Vodafone stopping the London Underground wifi service.

    I read on a forum, 2 very different views, namely one person said that the London underground wifi was an add-on service and thus not part of the mobile contract and another said it forms part of the contract.

    I’m really unsure, and would be keen to here from anyone who has managed to leave early penalty free.

    The London underground wifi was one of the main reasons I took out my 24months contract.

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