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Three and EE to bring 4G connectivity to the London Underground

All stations and tunnels expected to have uninterrupted mobile coverage by the end of 2024

Three and EE have agreed a deal to deliver 4G connectivity to the London Underground system.

The deal will see the two mobile operators join the BAI Communications network to roll out uninterrupted 4G coverage within stations as well as the tunnels between them, allowing commuters to access the network for the entirety of their journey.

Customers of other UK mobile operators will be able to access the London Underground Wi-Fi as well as BAI’s neutral host mobile network.

The latter will also be used to provide the LTE-based emergency services network (ESN), which aims to provide secure critical communication alongside the Underground route for the UK's emergency services. EE was awarded the £1 billion contract to supply ESN in 2015, replacing the existing Tetra network and reportedly saving the UK £1 million a day in running costs.

The infrastructure delivered by EE and Three is also set to be 5G-ready, allowing a seamless upgrade to the next generation of mobile connectivity in the future.

Commenting on the news, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said that he is “delighted to see Three and EE sign up as the first operators to provide full high-speed 4G access across the Tube network”. 

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“This will make a huge difference to passengers, allowing them to make calls, read emails and check travel information while on the move. 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,” he added.

The rollout is part of Khan’s electoral promise to deliver 4G throughout the London Underground network, with all stations and tunnels expected to have high-quality and uninterrupted mobile coverage, which for now is only restricted to some parts of the Jubilee line, by the end of 2024.

Busy stations such as Oxford Circus, Tottenham Court Road, Bank, Euston and Camden Town are set to receive 4G connectivity earlier, with a deadline set for the end of 2022.

The news comes weeks after EE rolled out 4G across Glasgow's 15 subway stations, in time for the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26).

A Vodafone spokesperson told IT Pro that the company is expected to sign a deal with BAI "next month".

“We’re excited about bringing 4G to the London Underground after the successful trials of the last few years," they said.

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