By the mid-2020s, Transport for London (TfL) hopes to have deployed 4G connectivity across the entirety of the London Underground network. The operator said that the rollout will begin with the Jubilee line tunnels and platforms in east London, with users getting access to 4G from March 2020.
Discussing the development, Shashi Verma, Chief Technology Officer at TfL, said:
“The London Underground network is an incredibly challenging environment in which to deliver technological improvements, but we are now well on the path to delivering mobile connectivity within our stations and tunnels. We have begun the complex work to allow our customers to be able to get phone reception within our tunnels from March 2020, with more stations and lines coming online during the coming years.”
The job will require fitting more than 2,000 kilometres (1,242 miles) of cabling in stations and tunnels beneath the streets of London. Engineers will have to fit the new installations during the night (excluding Fridays and Saturdays) while the Underground is offline. Installing the hardware in tunnels will be particularly tricky because of the small space between the tunnel walls and trains that will pass by, this will mean work will need to be carefully planned with hardware being strategically placed in order to not become an obstacle.
The trial section, which covers platforms and tunnels between Westminster and Canning Town will help TfL and mobile operators gain insight into delivering mobile coverage at those depths. The planned 4G connectivity will bolster the already existing Wi-Fi which is available at 260 stations and on TfL Rail.