London Underground 4G coverage launching in 2019, letting mobile phones work in Tube stations and tunnels

'We are on track to unlock one of the UK's most high profile not-spots'

Aatif Sulleyman
Monday 27 November 2017 15:59 GMT
(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

London Underground users will soon get phone signal in Tube stations and tunnels.

TfL says it will bring 4G mobile coverage to the underground transport network in 2019, having quietly carried out a successful trial on the Waterloo & City line.

The trial culminated in a call being made on a journey between Waterloo and Bank, during which mobile reception didn’t cut out once.

The test run took place this summer, with Vodafone, O2, EE and Three all involved.

“The trial took place during engineering hours and was a success, culminating in a test journey being made by one of our contractors from one end of the line to the other with uninterrupted data coverage,” said TfL.

“The trial will help to inform our next steps towards a wider public cellular network to allow our customers to check their emails and to read the latest news and social media updates as well as checking for live travel information while underground on the Tube.”

For the trial, TfL had to lay new fibre cables within stations and tunnels, which it says will be “crucial for other elements” of its connectivity strategy.

When the trial ended, all active test equipment was removed.

“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,” said Graeme Craig, Director of Commercial Development at TfL.

“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.”

Commuters can already access the internet on sections of the tube network by connecting to Virgin Media’s Wi-Fi service, but it isn’t especially practical.

It requires users to register their details and is only available on platforms and not tunnels, meaning Tube users can only connect to it when they pull up at a station, before quickly being kicked off again when their train starts moving.

TfL says it will wait until the New Year to start looking for a service provider, which will be tasked with delivering 4G mobile coverage on the Tube from 2019.

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