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London Tube Gets Wi-Fi Trial


London Tube Gets Wi-Fi Trial

The promise of internet access on the tube has just moved a step closer as BT has announced a six month trial of Wi-Fi access – but only at Charing Cross underground station.

Underground users will be able to access the internet on the platform when standing on the Northern and Bakerloo lines and also in the main ticket hall of the station.

The service will be free for BT broadband customers, with BT Fon minutes and also for BT Openzone customers. Anyone with free Wi-Fi minutes on O2, Tesco Mobile, Vodafone and Orange will also be able to connect.

"An ever growing commuter populace has been clamouring to be able to check their e-mails and browse the net whilst on the go,” said Kulveer Ranger, the Mayor of London's Transport advisor.

This is an important step towards seeing how this could be achieved and is part of the Mayor's ambition to examine the way in which we can use technology to adapt the city's transport system to meet the need of those using it," he said.

This is definitely a positive step – especially as it’s for internet access rather than voice calls. Standing in a crowded carriage full of people on the phone is clearly a nightmare scenario. Checking emails and sending texts however, would be a welcome step, so let’s hope this trial succeeds. And that everyone doesn’t just start using VoIP instead.

James Simmons

October 29, 2010, 10:34 pm

"An ever growing commuter populace has been clamouring to be able to check their e-mails and browse the net whilst on the go."

So "on-the-go" is synonymous with "in one train station, and even then only limited areas." A little generous.


October 29, 2010, 11:46 pm

Um Boris, I've been hoping for this for a while so that's great and all, but isn't your financial priority now saving Londoners from the "Kosovan" implications of housing benefit reform?


October 30, 2010, 1:30 am

They need to bring 4G coverage to the London Underground.


October 30, 2010, 2:00 am

Data, no voice huh!

So, they disable skype, then Google chat...where does it end? Most people have headphones or the ability to drown out any annoying drivel while burying their heads in their reading matter. It's a pointless exercise trying to kill voice calls.


October 30, 2010, 3:09 am

Excuse my ignorance, but what are Wi-Fi minutes. Do these come standard in mobile contracts or do you pay extra for them? I presume they allow you to use wi-fi services like the cloud for free?


October 30, 2010, 2:48 pm

What about the terrorists?


October 31, 2010, 5:16 pm

How hard can it be to put wifi in the underground, and yet they are patting themselves on the back. As for the mobile coverage, on Newcastle Metro and its admittedly short piece of track that is underground gets full signal as they (O2 I think) decided to provide that service. London seems to be in the dark ages sometimes.


November 1, 2010, 1:15 pm

As I regularly struggle to have a conversation on the tube with someone that is right next to me, I can't really see the point of providing a voice service. Data, on the other hand, I can understand.

However I do agree with @gazbarber that this is something that should have been in place years ago....


November 1, 2010, 1:45 pm

Maybe I am missing something here. Would not full 3G coverage (for voice and data) be a better move? In Hong Kong, Singapore, Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo....I am used to full connectivity at all stations and trains. Limited wi-fi seems like limping to catch up with what other major metros already provide.


November 1, 2010, 4:16 pm

WiFi coverage is the way to go in underground stations. Stations and trains are a suitably confined space, WiFi allows any laptop that doesn't have 3G connectivity to connect and it doesn't provide voice services, thereby preventing the Dom Joly impersonators from annoying their fellow passengers.

However, I'm not a fan of Boris' plan to put WiFi points all over the city in time for the Olympics. I'd much rather have reliable 3G, but I suppose that's less useful to foreign visitors.

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