Vodafone and Virgin Media O2 agree to offer mobile access on the London Underground
BAI Communications’ plan to provide high-speed mobile connectivity on London Underground’s transport systems has reached a major milestone, with Vodafone and Virgin Media O2 announcing that they are rolling out their networks on the Underground.
Run by Transport for London (TfL), the London Underground is one of the largest underground networks in the world and before the pandemic was used by more than five million passengers a day. When fully delivered, over 2,000 km of cabling will be installed in the tunnels and stations, all of which will be installed outside of operating hours.
In June 2021, BAI was awarded a 20-year concession from TfL to provide mobile connectivity. Once completed, customers will be able to make calls wherever they are on the subway, check the latest travel information, stay up to date with their emails, catch up on social media and live video, transform the passenger experience and secure London’s transformation into a smart city.
Mobile broadband coverage will be provided in the London Underground alongside a new full fiber network, which will also be used to provide full fiber connectivity across the city, connecting to buildings and street assets such as street lighting and bus stops, create new opportunities to serve homes and businesses with gigabit-enabled speeds and support digital inclusion.
Work to deliver 4G coverage on the Tube network is well underway, following the successful transfer of the previous pilot section at the eastern end of the Jubilee line to BAI earlier this year. Progress now means that the next five stations to be covered – Bank, Oxford Circus, Tottenham Court Road, Euston and Camden Town – will come into service within the next six months. The added connectivity at these stations will help customers visiting the city plan their shopping, events and socialize with friends and family in central London during the festive season.
All Tube network stations and tunnels remain on track for high-quality, uninterrupted mobile coverage. Parts of the Tube network will be in service by summer 2023, including parts of the Central Line such as stations and tunnels through the city and the West End.
TfL and BAI are also continuing to make progress in providing mobile coverage on the recently opened central section of the Elizabeth line between Paddington and Abbey Wood. Mobile operators will also provide continued and improved coverage via Wi-Fi on the London Underground and Elizabeth Line when the network is transferred to BAI in April 2023.
Customers of the four mobile network operators – Three, EE, Vodafone and Virgin Media O2 – will now be able to access 4G and 5G compatible high-speed mobile connectivity on the metro, including in tunnels. BAI’s Neutral Host Mobile Network will also host the new Emergency Services Network, which will give first responders immediate access to vital data, images and information in real-world situations and frontline emergencies.
Commenting on the announcement, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “Improving the capital’s connectivity and digital infrastructure is at the heart of London’s economic recovery from the pandemic, so I am delighted that Vodafone and Virgin Media O2 customers now have access to mobile broadband. coverage when traveling on the subway.
“I have made a commitment to Londoners to provide 4G across the entire Tube network as part of my determination to build a better London for all – and I am confident this will transform the journeys of millions of passengers.”
Billy D’Arcy, CEO of BAI Communications UK, said: “We are delighted to welcome Vodafone and Virgin Media O2 to our network and to reach another key milestone in our work to build a backbone of connectivity across the capital city. Staying connected is more important than ever, and we’re proud to work with our partners to deliver 5G-ready connectivity that will transform the way people move and work in the capital, allowing them to travel smarter, safer. and safely.