London Underground ditches mobile plans


Plans to provide mobile coverage on the London Underground have been shelved after mobile operators were unable to agree on a "viable proposal."

Transport for London (TfL) and Mayor Boris Johnson hoped mobile companies would be able to fund the initiative in time for the 2012 Olympics, but confirmed the plans had been ditched yesterday.

Vodafone, O2, Everything Everywhere and 3 said they had given up on the project for now, but would continue to "explore all other avenues" for installing mobile at a later date.

A statement from the group said they were "disappointed that it will not be possible to deliver such services in time for next year's Olympic games."

"The Mayor and TfL made it clear that - given the financial pressures on TfL's budgets - any solution would have to have been funded through mobile operators with no cost to fare or taxpayers," a TfL spokesperson said.

"The parties were not able to agree a viable proposal and the project is therefore not being progressed at this time."

Chinese company Huawei was in line to provide equipment for the project, potentially putting in 50 million of its own money.

Thales was reportedly set to install and maintain the network, whilst UK mobile operators would have been responsible for connectivity.

A spokesperson for the Mayor of London said the long-term goal of bringing in mobile remained.

"We are grateful to the companies who explored the possibility of getting full mobile coverage on the tube, although disappointed the genuine problems encountered could not be overcome on this occasion," they added.

The plans to bring Wi-Fi to the Underground are set to go-ahead, however.

"London Underground is currently inviting telecoms companies to tender for Wi-Fi provision at up to 120 stations across the network by June 2012, meaning that passengers will be able to log on to the internet from their laptops or mobile devices at stations before the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games," the TfL spokesperson added.

Tom Brewster

Tom Brewster is currently an associate editor at Forbes and an award-winning journalist who covers cyber security, surveillance, and privacy. Starting his career at ITPro as a staff writer and working up to a senior staff writer role, Tom has been covering the tech industry for more than ten years and is considered one of the leading journalists in his specialism.

He is a proud alum of the University of Sheffield where he secured an undergraduate degree in English Literature before undertaking a certification from General Assembly in web development.