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First Milestone of 4G Rollout on London Underground Completes

Thursday, Apr 7th, 2022 (9:04 am) - Score 5,424
london tube train network rail tfl uk

Infrastructure firm BAI Communications (BAI) has announced the completion of the first milestone of its rollout of 4G and 5G-ready mobile (mobile broadband) coverage across the London Underground, which introduces uninterrupted coverage on the eastern section of the Jubilee Line. But only EE (BT) and Three UK have signed to use it.

Just to recap. Transport for London (TfL) announced in June 2021 (here) that it had awarded a 20-year concession deal to global mobile infrastructure firm BAI Communications (BAI), which will build the network itself and then make it available via wholesale for Mobile Network Operators (MNO) to harness. The goal is to cover the entire London Underground (platforms and tube trains) by late 2024.

NOTE: Once fully delivered, more than 2,000 kilometres of cabling are expected to be installed within tunnels and stations.

The deal followed a successful trial on the Jubilee Line (eastern half of the line), which saw TfL install a neutral host distributed antenna system (DAS) that was supported by hundreds of kilometres of fibre optic cable laid in tunnels for data capacity (this was fitted outside operational hours). All four MNOs took part in that trial, but so far only EE and Three UK have reached an agreement to harness the final network (here and here).

Naturally, the first section to benefit was inevitably going to be the same bit as the earlier trial on the Jubilee Line, which ensures mobile coverage between Westminster and Canning Town. Progress on the project continues with work ongoing along the Elizabeth line and at Oxford Circus, Tottenham Court Road, Bank, Euston and Camden Town all on track to become connected by the end of 2022.

Billy D’Arcy, CEO of BAI Communications UK, said:

“We’re pleased to announce this first major delivery milestone on our journey to transforming London’s connectivity. Customers of our launch partners, Three and EE, will be able to enjoy permanent access to uninterrupted mobile connectivity whilst travelling on the eastern Jubilee Line. This will provide a massive boost to the passenger experience and marks an important next step on the project’s journey as we accelerate towards a hyperconnected London.”

Shashi Verma, Chief Technology Officer at TfL, said:

“It’s great that following our successful pilot over the last two years, BAI Communications will now be permanently providing 4G coverage to the eastern section of the Jubilee line. We Look forward to coverage being extended to more stations and tunnels in the coming years, which will provide greater connectivity to customers and support London’s economic recovery.”

At the end of last year Vodafone said they also expected to sign-up to the new mobile network in January 2022, but we’re still waiting for that announcement to surface. We also expect O2 (VMO2) to follow at some point, although they haven’t yet broadcast a solid expectation.

However, both O2 and Vodafone are still active on the original pilot service are said to be continuing their discussions with BAI on access agreements. At present, it’s unclear why it’s taking so long for them to reach a solid agreement, but no doubt there will be a concern over costs (BAI needs to recoup their investment on what is not a cheap network to build).

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Mark-Jackson
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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Comments
10 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Sam Perry says:

    I can confirm I got full whack 4G couple of weeks ago when I went to BETT. I am EE got well over 200 meg on speed tests!!

  2. Avatar photo SM says:

    Have they taken out (most/all?) of the trial equipment and wires/fibre, to replace it actual in-production non-trial equipment? Or are they just saying they have “completed” what has already been put in place as part of the trial?

    And if it’s been taken out to be swapped with other equipment, why? I honestly thought when I saw the headline that there would be news of the rest of the Jubilee, or part of another line being enabled, rather than the same bit that already had it (as a trial)

  3. Avatar photo DaveIsRight says:

    Having lived in London 20 years and taken 1000’s of tube rides, I can’t think of anything more pointless or obnoxious than having my phone ring in a crowded tube car. Can’t people just wait?

    1. Avatar photo ELL says:

      Funny how I’ve never seen that problem in other countries so why is London different?

      Plus people can always put their phones on silent.

      Just about time that London comes into the 21st Century as other places aboard have offered this for years.

    2. Avatar photo Binary says:

      @DaveIsRight

      Given the noise of a moving tube train, I imagine most people won’t sttempts conversations of any length. The data connection and messaging will be the attractions.

    3. Avatar photo Sam says:

      Most people will probably take advantage of the data rather than making calls or texts.

    4. Avatar photo Billy R says:

      Right ? I hate this idea. Now you’ll be surrounded by “YEAH INNIT BRUV” every 3 seconds on your daily tube ride. Or worse, mr i’m a professional trader come see my youtube vidoes. At least there used to be peace and quiet on the tube. I think i’ll get a bicycle and risk my life on the streets of London instead of endure that.

  4. Avatar photo Bob says:

    A lot of effort an money for very little benefit. The tube is a noisy environment both acoustically sand electrically as well so how reliable the signal will be who knows

    1. Avatar photo Feejus says:

      Most ppl think about calls, but if you look at the population most ppl use Data and that is what you can do on the tube. Watch some netflix or check live sport or if not that check where you need to go when you arrive. All of this requires connection to data which currently does not exist.

  5. Avatar photo Feejus says:

    Should have been done over 20 years ago and not now, but i guess better late then never!

Comments are closed

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