London Underground mobile network scrapped

It was all but confirmed late last year, with details of the installation leaked as recently as February of this year. But according to The Guardian, plans to create a mobile network on the London Underground have been scrapped.

The plan was to offer up both a 3G and 2G signal through signal ‘repeaters’ in each station, which will push a signal down the line, running via cables known as ‘leaky cables’. Sounded easy enough on paper, but it now seems that Transport for London and mobile operators including 02, Vodafone, Everything Everywhere and 3 plus the French engineering company Thales, have decided to abandon the project over 'funding issues' and the 'technical complexity' of installing the system in time for the London Olympics in 2012.

London mayor Boris Johnson had said that installing a mobile network on the London tube system was the 'way to go', presumably because other capital cities (like Paris for example) already have a working system. City hall is now insisting that the project is 'a long-term goal', with the plan to install Wi-Fi at 120 tube stations in time for the Games still to go ahead. So not all bad news.

Transport for London said: 'The mayor and TfL made it clear that, given the financial pressures on TfL's budgets, any solution would have to have been funded through mobile operators with no cost to fare or taxpayers. The parties were not able to agree a viable proposal, and the project is therefore not being progressed at this time.'

Vodafone added: 'We have been working closely with infrastructure partners and London Underground for some time with the hope of delivering mobile services to the...underground and are disappointed that it will not be possible in time for next year's Olympic Games. As a group, we will continue to positively explore all other avenues available to us to provide a service at a later date.'

A spokesperson for Boris Johnson said: 'We are grateful to the companies who explored the possibility of getting full mobile coverage on the tube, although disappointed the genuine problems encountered could not be overcome on this occasion. It remains a long-term goal, but our efforts meanwhile will be focused on guaranteeing a major expansion of Wi-Fi coverage in tube stations in time for the Olympics. We are proceeding with great energy and haste to deliver that improvement, which will mean Londoners can then use their mobile devices to pick up their emails or access the internet while passing through our stations.'

Written by Mobile Choice
Mobile Choice

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