THAT MAD DASH to connect to Virgin WiFi between London underground stops will soon be a thing of the past. Well, if you use the Jubilee Line, anyway.
Transport for London (TfL) has confirmed that 4G will hit most of the Jubilee Line (the silver one, with Wembley on it) in March 2020, with other lines following in over the next few years.
This does, of course, open up the possibility that people chatting away on crowded carriages will be added to Londoners' Tube gripes - right up there with people wearing rucksacks during rush hour - but at least it'll give us something else to tut about from a passive-aggressively safe distance.
"People could have their commute interrupted," TfL's Mark Bulle admitted to the Guardian. "But at the end of the day it's up to people whether they take the call from their boss."
Also, since when did Londoners enjoy talking while commuting? If anything, we're more likely to use the newfound connectivity as another excuse not to share the human experience with our neighbours. Especially as the speeds should be fast enough for live streaming of sports, according to Bulle.
You may wonder why it's taken so long for mobile signals to come to the tunnels, given other cities have had it for years. The problem stems from the age and narrowness of the tunnels that make up the London Underground. The way around this is a system of "leaky feeders" - running cables through the network that act as oversized aerials.
The only question that remains is "who's paying?" And that's an open question. While TfL is picking up the tab for the first line between Canning Town and Westminster, it's planning on outsourcing contracts to a private operator for the rest. UK networks will then pay for access, with TFL gaining a slice of the profits.
No plans for 5G as too much equipment would be required, but it's better than nothing, eh? µ
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