Vodafone and Virgin Media O2 to deliver 4G and 5G across London Underground
Vodafone and Virgin Media O2 have joined BAI Communications' (BAI) 4G and 5G-ready mobile network across London's underground tube network.
Announced by Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, customers of all four of the UK's mobile network operators - Three, EE, Vodafone and Virgin Media O2 - will be able to access 4G and 5G-ready mobile connectivity across the Tube, including within the tunnels.
"Improving the capital's connectivity and digital infrastructure is central to London's economic recovery from the pandemic, so I am delighted that Vodafone and Virgin Media O2 customers will now have access to high-speed mobile coverage when travelling on the Tube," said Khan.
"I committed to Londoners that I would deliver 4G throughout the Tube network as part of my determination to build a better London for everyone - and I have no doubt that this will transform journeys for millions of passengers."
The news follows BAI being awarded a 20-year contract by Transport for London (TfL) in June 2021 to deliver mobile connectivity on the Underground. Due to be fully completed by 2024, customers will be able to access 4G and 5G connectivity wherever they are on the Underground, bolstering the passenger experience and securing London's transformation into a smart city.
"We're delighted to welcome Vodafone and Virgin Media O2 to our network and to reach another key milestone in our work to build a backbone of connectivity across the capital," said Billy D'Arcy, CEO of BAI Communications UK.
As part of the contract, BAI's neutral host mobile network will also host the new Emergency Services Network (ESN), which will give first responders immediate access to critical connectivity on the frontline.
"I'm delighted that all four major mobile operators are set to provide high-speed, uninterrupted 4G coverage on the Tube. We are working hard with BAI Communications to get the next stations completed by the end of the year so our customers can benefit as soon as possible," added Shashi Verma, chief technology officer at TfL.
With work already underway some stations, including Bank, Oxford Circus, Tottenham Court Road, Euston, and Camden Town, are due to will go live over the next six months, following the successful implementation of the pilot section of the new network on the eastern end of the Jubilee line earlier this year.
"The UK needs world class digital infrastructure and bringing 4G and 5G to the London Underground is a big part of that," said Ahmed Essam, CEO at Vodafone UK.
"4G on the eastern stretch of the Jubilee line is already making a huge difference to our customers, and we're proud to continue our investment in keeping consumers and businesses connected across more parts of London."
In addition, all four mobile operator will continue to enhance Wi-Fi on the London Underground and Elizabeth line when the network transfers to BAI in April 2023.
"With our 5G network already reaching two-thirds of Londoners, this investment will bring next-generation mobile connectivity deep underground for the first time ever, giving our customers a seamless service while on the move," said Lutz Schüler, chief executive officer at Virgin Media O2.