TfL abandons plans for Mobile Phones on the Underground Tube

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ZDnet report that

London Underground stays in mobile dark ages

By Natasha Lomas

Posted on ZDNet News: Mar 16, 2009 8:54:54 AM

A plan to put mobile connectivity on the London Underground has stalled.

Back in March 2007, Transport for London (TfL) put out a tender for a six-month trial of mobile-phone technology on the Waterloo and City line. The aim of the trial -- originally scheduled for 2008 -- was to determine whether it would be technically and commercially viable for coverage to be extended across the entire Tube network.

Speaking at the time, Richard Parry, strategy and service development director of London Underground, said: "We recognize that there is now growing demand for mobile coverage to be extended to deep-level sections of the Tube."

However, two years on and no trial later the conclusion seems to be that mobiles on the Tube are not commercially viable. A TfL spokeswoman told ZDNet UK's sister site,, that three proposals were received by the October 2007 deadline but none were considered commercially "credible".

"London Underground tendered for a trial of mobile phones on the Waterloo and City line but the market has yet to provide us with a credible proposal for enabling mobile-phone use on the Tube," she said.

The high costs associated with the tenders appear to have seen the project shelved.

"While it is technically possible to deploy mobile-phone and data-wireless solutions on the deep-level Underground tunnels and stations, the unique nature and environment of the Tube mean that project costs would be prohibitively high at this time," the spokeswoman said.

TfL is still open to commercial approaches, according to the spokeswoman, but there are currently no active plans to trial or deploy cellular technology -- meaning the Underground mobile-network rollout has effectively hit the buffers.


Earlier this year, the Airwave emergency communication system went live on the Underground -- which means police and other emergency services personnel are now able to communicate wirelessly through 250 miles of Tube tunnels.

It sounds as if TfL have been too greedy in what they were planning to charge the Mobile Network Operators. Nobody could possibly have made any money, or even covered their costs,on the Waterloo and City Line pilot project - it is far too short a journey.

The prospects of "I will see you in a few minutes" or endless other annoying one sided conversations in public, is one which many people will not regret missing out on on the Tube.

The potential risks of mobile phone activated bombs on the deep Tube, are not to be dismissed lightly either.

Hopefully.any Deep Tube mobile phone location tracking surveillance infrastructure (which would have been provided for free, piggy backing on top of a commercial phone service) will also prove to be too expensive to justify financially. Such surveillance infrastructure obviously already exists for much of the above ground sections of London Underground rail lines.


I had high hopes when Boris came in then what do we have with the LDA bids. Loads of Paper wasted and peoples time and also many mistakes and again bids going to Colleges and lots of other items to many to mention plus delays.
Boris please show us you can get this organised.

Under the management of our politicians and mayor, all the 'true' improvements are being lost under a torrent of free loaders and wastefulness.

From money pumped into fraudulent community schemes, for our newest citizens who walked in our 'open' borders, to corrupt practices from our pompous hierarchy. Sitting high above the gutter they have filled.

Then you block the only way to 'show' our anger, by blocking the loony BNP.

God forbid you force people to vote for them!

Or will you find a way to block that too.

Get tough for Britain

A relief actually. The last thing I want is to have the person next to me yakking into the phone during my Tube journey. Whether the money spent thus far has been wasted is yet another issue.

To be honest, with the din in the trains, I don't think you would be able to hear the other party over the phone anyway.

Using mobiles on the Boston Underground has been possible for more than 10 years, and Europe invented cell phones!! Why are we so slow to adopt technology?? The wayleave revenues would top up the London Underground income!!


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