BOTHERING PEOPLE with selfies from the tube will be easier in 2019 as the London Underground is set to get 4G coverage.
For some time Transport for London (TfL) has been teasing an Underground that's connected by more than miles of track and tubes.
But successful trials of 4G on the Waterloo & City line this summer has kickstarted efforts to bring mobile broadband to the rest of the tube, normally associated with a complete lack of signal, replacing digital contact with the physical contact of being squeezed onto a packed carriage.
"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. 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," enthused Graeme Craig, director of commercial development at TfL.
While O2, Three, EE and Vodafone were all involved in the 4G trail's designs, with O2 and Vodafone actually putting the equipment into the line most popular with wan..bankers, TfL said it's on the lookout for a provider to set up a full 4G network across the Underground in 2018.
This would suggest that only one telecoms company will be the 4G provider, raising questions as to whether the network would, for example, support EE customers if it was being delivered by Three. We'd suspect that the TfL will insist on a form of free roaming, compensating the network provider rather well in the process.
While the Tube currently has WiFi, it's limited to station connections; a 4G network would extend that connectivity into tunnels.
This means the enforced peace granted by having no signal underground will be shattered into a million screaming smartphones if the 4G rollout follows the success of its limited trial.
But there's a hell of a lot of tunnels and track to connect so Londoners could have more than some 18 months left of unconnected and dourly silent commuting. µ
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