Plans to install a mobile phone network on the London Underground have been delayed indefinitely, according to a statement from Boris Johnson. The Conservative mayor of London, in a statement to The Guardian, said that "the genuine problems encountered could not be overcome on this occasion."
It remains unclear as to where talks broke down between operators and Transport for London, but a statement from Vodafone shows the mobile giant is still keen to get travelers talking on the tube. "As a group, we will continue to positively explore all other avenues available to us to provide a service at a later date," it said.
TfL has strict goals on how a mobile service would be implemented. "Given the financial pressures on TfL's budgets, any solution would have to have been funded through mobile operators with no cost to fare or taxpayers," TfL stated. Previously, Huawei made an offer to provide mobile coverage for the tube for free, but privacy concerns, among other factors, made the solution unfeasible.
Nonetheless, commuters will have the chance to get connected in a smaller way, as TfL plan to fit 120 stations with Wi-Fi access in time for the 2012 Olympics. "Our efforts meanwhile will be focused on guaranteeing a major expansion of Wi-Fi coverage in tube stations in time for the Olympics," it said. Regardless, major cities such as Paris already have mobile access on their underground lines, and TfL are in danger of being perceived as slipping behind if they fail to keep up with technologies available underground in other countries.