The trial of mobile phone coverage on the Jubilee line extension has come to an end, but it’s been replaced with a permanent network, as part of plans to expand coverage across the London Underground.
The work was carried out by BAI Communications, who signed a 20-year commercial contract last year with TfL to provide mobile phone services. Their first task was to replace and upgrade the temporary trial network that covered the tunnels between Westminster and Canning Town on the Jubilee line with a permanent installation.
This marks the completion of the first milestone of BAI’s Connected London project, which has seen the handover of all infrastructure as well as the development and refinement of the previous network support model to meet the needs of a permanent commercial service.
Phone coverage arrived in the Jubilee line extension in March 2020 as a two-year trial, with all four main mobile networks signing up for the trial. Customers of Three and EE are the first to be confirmed to have permanent access to 4G and 5G-ready networks.
Although O2 and Vodafone haven’t signed up to use the permanent network, their access to the network under the trial conditions has been extended until contracts can be signed. Vodafone, which controversially switched off Wi-Fi coverage on the tube early last year said last December that it expected to sign a contract shortly. The negotiations are taking longer than expected.
Shashi Verma, Chief Technology Officer at TfL, said: “It’s great that following our successful pilot over the last two years, BAI Communications will now be permanently providing 4G coverage to the eastern section of the Jubilee line. We look forward to coverage being extended to more stations and tunnels in the coming years, which will provide greater connectivity to customers and support London’s economic recovery. ”
Progress on the project continues with work across London, with work along the Elizabeth line and at Oxford Circus, Tottenham Court Road, Bank, Euston and Camden Town all on track to become connected by the end of 2022. All stations and tunnels across the Tube network are due to have mobile coverage by the end of 2024.
The delivery of mobile phone coverage on the London Underground was signed via a concession agreement so that the cost of installing it will be funded by BAI at no cost to TfL, while TfL will also earn revenue from the contract over its 20-year lifespan.