London Underground to get 4G mobile phone internet from March 2020, TfL announces

4G signal to come to Jubilee line before spreading to entire Tube service by mid-2020s

Jubilee Line tops The Indepenent Underground temperature test

Tube passengers will be able to use their phones to make calls and access internet across the entire London Underground network by the mid-2020s, it has been announced.

Transport for London (TfL) said mobile connectivity with 4G signal would first come to the eastern half of the Jubilee line on platforms and in tunnels from March next year.

The trial section, which will cover stations between Westminster and Canning Town, means commuters will be able to check travel information, use social media, stream music and video, and read emails uninterrupted during their journey.

Ticket halls and corridors will also be covered within stations, with the exception of London Bridge and Waterloo stations, which are expected to be added later in 2020.

Free wifi network is already available at 260 Tube stations and on TfL rail services , but not in tunnels.

Mark Bulle, TfL’s head of infrastructure transformation, told The Guardian that the service should be fast enough to allow uninterrupted video streaming, meaning passengers could watch live sports while underground.

The Underground has long been one of the few major public places in the UK without phone reception, in contrast with subway systems around the world where mobile phone coverage is common.

As the world’s oldest subway network, the Underground is not well-suited to providing phone signal in its tunnels.

Many of its lines are built in narrow tunnels, which have little space to install mobile connectivity equipment, while twists on the lines also make it difficult for signals to pass through them.

“The London Underground network is an incredibly challenging environment in which to deliver technological improvements, but we are now well on the path to delivering mobile connectivity within our stations and tunnels,” Shashi Verma, chief technology officer at TfL, said.

Sadiq Khan, mayor of London, said the announcement was an “important step for the millions of people who use the Tube each year”.

The upgraded network is expected to require 2,000km of cabling, with engineers working week-night shifts to minimise disruption for passengers.

TfL will cover the cost for the initial trial on the Jubilee line, according to the Guardian, before awarding a contract to a private operator to install 4G equipment within all tunnels by the mid-2020s.

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