Transport for London (TfL) has announced that from March 2020, 4G rollout will begin across the London Underground network, thereby allowing customers, for the first time, to check emails and travel information, use social media, and stream music and video uninterrupted.
The first section of the network to get a trial of full mobile connectivity within station platforms, tunnels, ticket halls and corridors from March 2020 will be the eastern half of the Jubilee line (between Westminster and Canning Town). This will help to remove one of the most high-profile mobile ‘not-spots’ in the UK, and to fulfil an important ambition of Mayor Khan to improve digital connectivity in public spaces, stations and right across London’s transport network.
Although free Wi-Fi is already offered by TfL within more than 260 Wi-Fi-enabled London Underground stations and on TfL Rail services, the trialling of 2G, 3G and 4G mobile services along this first section will mark the beginning of a push to boost digital connectivity across London and to tackle the city’s main areas of poor connectivity. TfL also hopes that the trial work on connecting this first section of the Underground will also give TfL and mobile operators valuable experience of delivering mobile connectivity there ahead of awarding a concession to deliver mobile coverage across the whole underground network, starting from summer 2020.
What’s Been The Problem?
One of the main reasons why mobile connectivity in the London Underground network has been challenging is because of the many old and narrow tunnels, which weren’t built to allow space to install mobile connectivity equipment, and have twists that can make it more difficult for signals to pass through them. The fact that there are now 24-hour tube services may also prove to be a challenge to any engineering staff who need access to the tunnels.
The benefits of having mobile (4G) connectivity across the London Underground will include potentially boosting the capital’s productivity and improving the experience of those living and working in and visiting London.
It is estimated that the work to provide connections across the London Underground network could involve the use of over 1,200 miles of cabling. It has been reported that the engineers working on the project will work weeknight shifts in order to minimise any disruption to passengers.
What Will This Mean For Your Business?
The London Underground handles an estimated 5 million passenger journeys per day, and the fact that the network has suffered from a lack of connectivity may have come at a huge cost to businesses over the years as workers can’t receive travel updates and suffer frequent delays, and working people have been simply unavailable and essentially cut-off while travelling through one of the world’s leading modern capital cities. The connectivity work, beginning in key areas from March 2020 should improve the productivity of London and of businesses based there, as well as improving the experience of those living and working in London.
For mobile networks, this represents a significant business opportunity as, once the equipment installed, they will be able to pay the private operator for access to that network. TfL will also benefit from adding connectivity infrastructure by receiving a cut of the profits.