Jubilee line platform at modern North Greenwich station

First phase of 4G rollout on London Underground complete

Image credit: Dreamstime

BAI Communications (BAI) has launched permanent, uninterrupted coverage on the eastern section of the Jubilee Line, completing the first milestone of the rollout of its 4G service across the London Underground.

In June 2021, Transport for London (TfL) awarded the mobile infrastructure firm with a 20-year concession deal to build the network itself and then make it available via wholesale for mobile network operators (MNO) to harness.

The deal followed a successful trial on the Jubilee Line (eastern half of the line), which saw TfL install a neutral host distributed antenna system (DAS) that was supported by hundreds of kilometres of fibre-optic cable laid in tunnels for data capacity.

All four MNOs (Vodafone, Three, EE and O2) took part in the trial, but so far only EE and Three UK have agreed to harness the final network.

Billy D’Arcy, CEO of BAI Communications UK, said the delivery “will provide a massive boost to the passenger experience and marks an important next step on the project’s journey as we accelerate towards a hyper-connected London”.

The first section to benefit from the coverage were stops between Westminster and Canning Town, which were part of the earlier trial on the Jubilee Line.

Progress on the project continues with work ongoing along the new Elizabeth Line and at Oxford Circus, Tottenham Court Road, Bank, Euston and Camden Town, which are all on track to become connected by the end of 2022.

TfL and its collaborators aim to cover the entire London Underground network (platforms and tube trains) by late 2024.

“It’s great that following our successful pilot over the last two years, BAI Communications will now be permanently providing 4G coverage to the eastern section of the Jubilee Line,” said Shashi Verma, CTO at TfL.

He added: “We look forward to coverage being extended to more stations and tunnels in the coming years, which will provide greater connectivity to customers and support London’s economic recovery.”

At the end of last year, Vodafone said it also expects to sign-up to the new mobile network in January 2022. However, further announcements on this have yet to surface.

The industry also expects O2 to follow suit, although it too has yet to confirm this.

Insiders have said that both O2 and Vodafone are still active in the original pilot service and are continuing their discussions with BAI on access agreements.

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