Long-suffering commuters who use the Tube will finally have 4G mobile signal for calls and data by 2019, according to the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.
The idea has been mooted for years, but today’s announcement marks the first official end-date to get 4G signal moving on the Tube.
It’s long been grating for the millions who fight their way through the underground network daily, that while WiFi is available on the platforms, once trains are on the move, that signal drops to zero.
WiFi is nothing new on metro-area public transport across the world. Commuters in Paris, Berlin and New York have been able to get online on their mobiles since the early 200s. Until now London has been lagging behind.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, wrote a letter to all 33 London local authorities pledging the two-year timeline.
He said the new target would be to deliver “4G mobile connectivity to London Underground, both in station and tunnels from 2019, future-proofed ready for 5G.”
I recently set out my ambition for London to become the world’s leading ‘smart’ city, and above all else, that means being a connected city. In that context it is reasonable to say that before too long, every household and every business in London should have access to a superfast internet connection, and that free public connectivity should be a feature of our high streets and public spaces.
However, I know that you will be as aware as I am of the gaps in high speed digital connectivity across London that currently exist, and the frustration this creates for Londoners and business. I am writing to you to ask that we work together to find and expedite solutions.- Sadiq Kahn: Mayor of London
There’s still little news on the technology that will be intstalled to back up this 4G revolution, but the technical challenge will surely be extremely complex.
Those in the industry expect delays far beyond 2019 while all the kinks are worked out.
A handful of companies have informally expressed an interest, according to the Financial Times, including BAI Communications, Wireless Infrastructure Group and Arqiva.
If that last company sounds familiar, it might be because mast-owners Arqiva shocked the market at the start of 2017 by saying it had a 5G mobile trial with Samsung underway.
Transport for London have not commented on Khan’s announcement.
The Mayor’s admirable plans to tackle mobile black spots in London will find him many friends, but if the trials hit roadbumps or 4G doesn’t appear by 2019 then he will shoulder a lot of the pressure – and the blame.
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