The Tube is set for mobile coverage
Filed under: Mobile
Alcatel-Lucent is reportedly in talks to install coverage on underground trains, as well as the Tube stations, which are already scheduled to receive wi-fi access later this year.
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Ben Verwaayen, chief executive of Alcatel-Lucent disclosed the information, according to a report in The Telegraph yesterday. He said that the company wanted to make it possible to use mobile devices while travelling on the underground, adding that the ability for workers to make calls and read emails on the move would be worth an estimated £1.1bn to the British economy.
Stage one is to allow travellers to communicate where they currently cannot and once the rollout of this service is complete, Alcatel-Lucent plans to introduce a number of features aimed at assisting travellers with their journey, such as real-time travel information and route planners.
The move follows a number of failed attempts to introduce mobile coverage to the tube. Transport for London abandoned its plans to provide it by the 2012 Olympic Games last year after admitting that the service backers had pulled out when asked to fund the £150m scheme.
In 2011, the Chinese network Huawei offered to make the £50m upgrade as a gift to the British government "as a contribution from one Olympic nation to another." However, the deal fell apart in the face of public scepticism about the Chinese company's motives.
Work on the move
The Alcatel-Lucent roll-out follows plans to install wireless broadband access at tube stations, announced earlier this year. The service, which will be paid for by Virgin Media and also uses Alcatel-Lucent technology, will launch at 80 London stations by July, starting with Oxford Circus, Stratford, Liverpool Street, Leicester Square and King's Cross.
The installation of mobile and broadband coverage across the network will extend the working day for many commuters – a move likely to be welcomed by businesses but perhaps less so by already overworked employees.
Around 45% of the underground system is in tunnels and currently affected by lack of coverage, with the longest continuous tunnel running for 17.3 miles on the Northern Line from East Finchley to Morden (via Bank).