Mobile operators Three and EE have become the first to join the BAI Communications network to provide 4G and 5G-ready mobile connectivity across the London Underground.
Customers will uninterrupted coverage on the Tube and stations. Image courtesy: TfL
Mobile operators Three and EE have agreed to a deal to deliver 4G and 5G-ready connectivity across the London Underground network.
As part of the Connected London programme, the deal between the two networks and BAI Communications, which was awarded a 20-year concession with Transport for London (TfL) to deliver mobile connectivity on the Underground, will give customers on the networks access to uninterrupted coverage while on the Tube and within the stations.
Neutral host mobile network
All mobile operators will be able to access the Underground wifi, as well as BAI’s neutral host mobile network, which can also be made available to the emergency services network (ESN). The infrastructure will also be 5G-ready, allowing seamless upgrades in the future.
“I’m delighted to see Three and EE sign up as the first operators to provide full high-speed 4G access across the Tube network. This will make a huge difference to passengers, allowing them to make calls, read emails and check travel information while on the move,” said Sadiq Khan, mayor of London.
“Investing in London’s connectivity and digital infrastructure is one important way we are helping to stimulate our city’s economy. It also represents a significant step towards ensuring the whole Tube network has 5G-ready mobile coverage.”
“Providing mobile connectivity to customers within the tunnels and on platforms across London will help them stay connected more easily and will both provide a long-term revenue stream for TfL and support economic growth across the city”
Since BAI was awarded the concession in June 2021, work at some of London’s busiest stations, including Oxford Circus, Tottenham Court Road, Bank, Euston and Camden Town, is underway to prepare them to be some of the first to be connected by the end of 2022. All stations and tunnels across the Tube network are due to have high-quality and uninterrupted mobile coverage by the end of 2024.
Progress continues to be made to ensure that customers on the forthcoming Elizabeth line can enjoy mobile connectivity as soon as possible once it has opened in the first half of 2022.
Work is underway to allow 4G connectivity to start being introduced for customers on both the trains and platforms during 2022. From launch, BAI reports customers will be able to benefit from wifi connectivity within stations along the line in the same way they currently experience within Tube stations. Wifi access within the tunnels will be introduced later in 2022.
“It is great that these first two mobile operators have now signed up to provide high-speed, uninterrupted 4G coverage across the London Underground network,” said Shashi Verma, chief technology officer at TfL.
“Providing mobile connectivity to customers within the tunnels and on platforms across London will help them stay connected more easily and will both provide a long-term revenue stream for TfL and support economic growth across the city.”
Connected London programme
BAI anticipates investing more than £1bn across the Connected London programme, which will see a backbone of mobile and digital connectivity established across London.
A full-fibre network will also be delivered that will connect to buildings and street assets, such as traffic lights and lamp posts, that house small mobile transmitter cells to leverage the power of 5G and the internet of things. These can then be used by boroughs, academics and developers to deliver improvements in everything from air quality and traffic congestion to public safety and city planning.