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4G Mobile Extended to Elizabeth Line on London Underground UPDATE

Wednesday, Dec 20th, 2023 (9:42 am) - Score 1,840
Young black woman sitting inside the underground on the mobile phone

Mobile operators EE (BT) and Three UK have this morning become the first providers to announce that their ongoing deployment of a new 4G and 5G (mobile broadband) network on the London Underground – in partnership with Boldyn Networks and Nokia – has now been extended to the Elizabeth line for the first time.

Boldyn Networks (formerly BAI) currently holds a 20-year concession deal with Transport for London (TfL), which was signed in June 2021 (here) and allows them to build the new 4G infrastructure. This can then be made available via wholesale for Mobile Network Operators (MNO) to harness. The goal of this roll-out is to cover the entire London Underground by late 2024 (ticket halls, platforms and tunnels).

NOTE: O2 (VMO2), Three UK, EE and Vodafone have all signed deals to harness the infrastructure. The new network is also classed as being 5G Ready.

The Elizabeth line is TfL’s newest train line, having opened in May 2022, and becomes the fourth to receive underground mobile connectivity, joining existing stations along the Jubilee, Northern and Central lines as part of the ongoing roll-out. As a result, commuters travelling across Liverpool Street, Farringdon, Tottenham Court Road and Bond Street will now able to benefit from access to fast mobile connectivity.

The entire 73-mile line is currently due to be fully covered by the end of Spring 2024. Recent progress also means that Boldyn Networks can now deliver both 4G and 5G coverage to the tunnelled sections, rather than just 4G coverage as previously announced.

David Hennessy, CTO of Three UK, said:

“We are pleased to bring 4G coverage to the Elizabeth Line and five more stations including Chancery Lane. Our customers can now stay connected at more than 20 stations with the ambition to cover the majority of the TFL network by the end of next year.”

Greg McCall, BT’s Chief Networks Officer, said:

“We’re delighted to bring the UK’s best network to the first Elizabeth line stations, marking another significant milestone in the roll-out of 4G and 5G across the London Underground. That we’re already seeing vast amounts of data consumed by our customers while they travel signifies how important this project is for London’s residents, visitors and businesses, and we’re excited to accelerate the deployment as we head into 2024.”

A Virgin Media O2 Spokesperson said:

“The latest rollout of 4G coverage on the Elizabeth line will help to ensure that our customers can get mobile coverage on the move. Virgin Media O2 is dedicated to improving the commuting experience for our customers by expanding phone network coverage on the London Underground and this marks another significant milestone. Rollout continues and by the end of 2024, tube customers will be able to access 4G and 5G mobile connectivity across a significant proportion of the network.”

EE separately noted that today’s news marked 12 months since they first announced high-speed mobile connectivity at stations beyond the eastern half of the Jubilee line, and rounds-off a busy year which has seen a total of 25 stations go live, including in recent weeks Goodge Street, Warren Street and several surrounding tunnels to deliver continuous Northern Line coverage between Tottenham Court Road and Archway.

In that time, EE customers have also consumed 424TB (TeraBytes) of data while travelling along the connected stations and tunnels of the Central and Northern lines. But it should be said that most of the mobile operators are going live across the new network at about the same pace, since the main factor in all this is how long it’s taking Boldyn Networks to deploy the necessary kit and cables. We fully Vodafone to follow suit with a similar update.

By the end of spring 2024, the first stations on the Bakerloo, Victoria and Piccadilly line will also have mobile coverage in stations and within tunnels in central London, meaning that around 40 stations with platforms that are underground, and therefore usually unable to get a mobile signal, as well as connecting tunnels, will have mobile coverage.

Boldyn Networks is also progressing work to bring mobile coverage to the southern end of the Northern line, with the first sections going live during summer 2024, and more widely across Central London, with a significant proportion of the entire Tube network (around 80 per cent of stations across the network) and the Elizabeth line, having mobile coverage by the end of 2024.

UPDATE 12:07pm

O2 has now confirmed their support and added a comment above.

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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
9 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Kris Lord says:

    As someone not from London it seems mad that the newest line didn’t already have full mobile coverage from day one.

    1. Avatar photo Ben says:

      I agree it would be nice to have had everything at launch, but the project got so far behind before Mark Wild took over that they really just had to concentrate on delivering the train service. The time spent in the central section is usually quite short anyway.

    2. Avatar photo Anon says:

      Probably because they were more concerned with the safety side eg line signalling to ensure safe movement than worry about 4G or 5G connectivity especially as 1. It’s a newer form of railway signalling in use and two one that has to work with two separate railway safety systems eg ATP from London Paddington to Reading/Heathrow Airport and AWS/TPWS from Liverpool Street to Shenfield.

      Not to mention the additions of a auto reversing system at London Paddington where the train drives itself to the sidings while the driver walks to the other end.

      The other thing as well to consider is the small amount of hours available to get man and equipment in place, do the work and than reopen for regular service which is also a factor.

      The fact that London should have had this in place for the 2012 Olympics when other major EU cities have had similar setups for similar periods of time can be put down to the short term planning of UK Plc.

    3. Avatar photo Patrick says:

      The line was far from complete at “day 1”, they cucked it up so hard they had to launch it with unfinished sections. It was silly changing at Liverpool Street from the underground to the regular train or going across the entirety of Paddington station to remain on the Elizabeth line track for Heathrow

    4. Avatar photo A M says:

      Why TFL demanded a different signalling system is almost bordering criminal. That alone cost extra billions and most of the extra years to deliver the service.

  2. Avatar photo Zakir says:

    No update from Vodafone im on talkmobile and it working good but signal will improve overtime as they make tweaks and improvements

  3. Avatar photo Oliver says:

    Does this include 5G signal? The literature seems to imply it’s only currently 4G?

    1. Avatar photo Aled says:

      Elizabeth line/Crossline is apparently 4G only at this time.

    2. Avatar photo J says:

      It’s 5G.

Comments are closed

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