After years of having to quickly connect to the in-station Wi-Fi whenever your train pulls in, Transport for London has announced that full 4G coverage will be coming to the Underground rail system in 2019.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan pledged back in August that the Underground would catch up with other underground transit systems in Paris, Tokyo and NY and offer full mobile coverage throughout the Underground network, so customers can call, message, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat friends and family without having to worry about signal dropouts. This follows a trial of 4G coverage on the Waterloo & City line over the summer.
The trial, which included design input from United Kingdom mobile operators Vodafone, O2, Three and EE, saw a phone call being made from one station to another without dropping reception. They designed the parameters of the trial, while O2 and Vodafone participated in the testing within the tunnels.
"TFL's innovation shows we can make a real difference and benefit Londoners through using city-wide assets in a smarter way, starting with the Tube".
Following the trial, all active test equipment was removed from the stations and tunnels.
This would suggest that only one telecoms company will be the 4G provider, raising questions as to whether the network would, for example, support EE customers if it was being delivered by Three.
TFL is searching for a provider to begin installing the necessary hardware.
While the Tube now has WiFi, it's limited to station connections; a 4G network would extend that connectivity into tunnels. "This is great news for our customers and will also help us generate vital commercial income to reinvest in modernising and improving transport in London", enthused Graeme Craig, director of commercial development at TfL.