Tube to have full 4G mobile phone coverage from 2019, Transport for London announces

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The Tube will have full 4G mobile coverage from 2019, Transport for London has announced.

Londoners will be able to use their smartphones deep under the capital in London Underground tunnels for the first time following a successful pilot trial on the Waterloo and City line.

It comes after the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan set a 2019 deadline for the start of 4G coverage on the Tube in a major new drive to eliminate the capital’s no-signal zones.

London falls behind Paris, New York, Berlin and Tokyo which all have mobile phone reception for passengers below ground.

On Monday, TfL announced “significant progress” had been made in delivering a 4G mobile network on the Tube following the technology trial, which took place over the summer.

Tunnels and stations along the line, which runs between Bank and Waterloo Underground stations, were installed with 4G technology.

Passengers were able to check their emails, read the latest news and check live travel information.

Four major mobile network operators Vodafone, O2, Three and EE all took part in the trial while Vodafone and O2 used the opportunity to carry out testing within the tunnels.

The trial also gave staff a chance to practise laying new fibre cables within stations and tunnels, TfL said.

Theo Blackwell, the Mayor of London’s first ever chief digital officer, called it a “brilliant initiative”.

“This is part of our work to improve connectivity at home, in our high streets, public spaces and across the transport network,” he said.

“TfL’s innovation shows we can make a real difference and benefit Londoners through using city-wide public assets in a smarter way, starting with the Tube.”

TfL is set to begin tendering for a service provider to deliver the 4G mobile coverage in the New Year.

It will bring an end to the last “hiding place” for people to remain un-contactable.

Previously Tanya Goodin, who founded organisation Time To Log Off which promotes “digital detoxing”, criticised plans to bring full mobile reception to the Tube.

“I just think we are running out of places where we can escape from our phones and from work,” she told the Standard earlier this year.

TfL’s director of commercial development, Graeme Craig, said: “The success of this trial shows that we are on track to unlock one of the UK’s most high profile not-spots and deliver 4G mobile coverage throughout our tunnels and Tube stations.

“This is great news for our customers and will also help us generate vital commercial income to reinvest in modernising and improving transport in London.”

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