Huawei and London Underground deal soon

The deal was being talked up last year, but as yet, nothing has actually been signed in regard to a mobile network for the London Underground. That deal could be signed very shortly.

According to the Financial Times, the company providing the network will be Chinese mobile phone manufacturer and technology provider Huawei. It will provide and install all the telecoms equipment required for the network. All of that should mean an improved Wi-Fi reception plus, for the first time, mobile coverage 'down below' in time for the London 2012 Olympics. Whether you want constant chatter from the person squeezed next to you in the carriage is another thing. But it looks like you'll be getting it anyway.

Interestingly, PA News claims that Huawei is offering to put in the £50 million phone network free of charge as 'a gift from one Olympic nation to another'. It adds that mobile network operators Vodafone and O2 have agreed to pick up the tab for installation work, while Huawei would hope to make an income from maintenance fees.

That all sounds good for the tax payer, but some are alarmed at the prospect. Conservative MP Patrick Mercer said an underground mobile network of the kind already installed in Hong Kong and Paris would be 'extremely helpful' for emergency workers in the event of a terror attack. But he warned it 'absolutely answers a terrorist's prayers', by providing a means of detonating devices on the Underground.

He also told the Sunday Times: 'Whoever takes the decision has to be aware it is a double-edged sword. It has been proven that a proportion of the cyberattacks on this country come from China. I wonder when the eyes of the world are upon us whether there is sense in using a Chinese firm to install a sensitive mobile network.'

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