Three and EE to provide 4G across London Underground

Three and EE have agreed on a deal to provide 4G mobile connectivity across the London Underground for their mobile customers.

TfL awarded a contract to BAI Communications earlier this year to build out the infrastructure needed to provide coverage through the tunnels and stations.

Uninterrupted mobile coverage has already been introduced on the eastern half of the Jubilee line and will be expanded in phases to ticket halls, platforms and tunnels on the Tube network over the next three years.

The London Underground is one of the world’s largest underground networks and prior to the pandemic was used by more than five million passengers a day.

The Elizabeth Line, which is expected to open early 2022 after repeated delays, is on track to be the next one to get 4G coverage from next year.

The deal struck between Three, EE and BAI, will allow all mobile operators to access the London Underground Wi-Fi, as well as BAI’s neutral host mobile network, which can also be made available to the Emergency Services Network (ESN). The infrastructure will be 5G-ready to allow seamless upgrades in the future.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “I’m delighted to see Three and EE sign up as the first operators to provide full high-speed 4G access across the Tube network. This will make a huge difference to passengers, allowing them to make calls, read emails and check travel information while on the move.

“Investing in London’s connectivity and digital infrastructure is one important way we are helping to stimulate our city’s economy. It also represents a significant step towards ensuring the whole tube network has 5G-ready mobile coverage.”

Billy D’Arcy, CEO of BAI Communications UK, said: “We’re pleased to welcome Three and EE as our launch partners and the first operators who will be transforming customer experience on the London Underground by enabling them to access seamless, 5G-ready connectivity.”

Three CEO, Robert Finnegan, said that once operational, customers will be able to take advantage of “smooth streaming, phone calls underground and continued seamless coverage while they travel, even in tunnels.”

E&T has previously taken a detailed look at how the infrastructure will work in the enclosed underground spaces of the tube network.

Signal will be provided along tunnels using cables known as ‘leaky feeders’ that comprise a standard coaxial cable that can emit and receive radio waves. The cable is ‘leaky’ in that it has gaps or slots in its outer conductor to allow the radio signal to leak into or out of the cable along its entire length.

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