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Huawei offers to bring mobile coverage to London Underground

In a generous move, Huawei today announced intentions to bring mobile phone coverage to London's sprawling underground system. Expected to be worth $80 million, The Sunday Times is reporting that the move would be a gift from one Olympic nation to another, and Chinese-based Huawei would expect no payment for the installation.

During the Olympic bid, the IOC pointed at London's transportation system as a weak point, declaring it as "obsolete." In response, Transport for London are planning to carry out numerous improvements to services, including the DLR and London Overground. Mobile phone coverage has not been integral to TfL's Olympic plans, but a spokesperson confirmed that "[TfL] are currently in discussion with mobile phone operators and other suppliers about the potential provision of mobile phone services on the deep Tube network."

According to the report, operators have expressed interest, and Huawei's offer would involve the key players funding installation work, while Huawei would eventually make its money back over time through maintenance contracts.

Not everyone is convinced of the deal's benefits, however. Conservative MP Patrick Mercer expressed concerns over security, citing evidence that "a proportion of the cyberattacks on this country come from China." But despite the apparent ties with the Chinese government that a deal like this suggests, Huawei has long denied any affiliation of the sort. Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei formerly served in the People's Liberation Army as an engineer, but today has a less than two percent stake in the company.

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