4G London Underground coming in 2019, following successful tests
Commuting, I spend 64 minutes each day in the happiest place on Earth: a stuffed Tube carriage on the Northern Line. Assuming no delays (a bold assumption, let me tell you), that’s 278 hours – or roughly 11 and a half days – every year. For those 11 and a half days, currently, I have no internet connection and can’t even pretend to be a productive member of society.
This safe space away from the working world is about to be cracked wide open. Following a successful trial, TfL has announced that 4G will be coming to the London Underground with the rollout starting in 2019. Currently WiFi is available at every station, but this change will mean you don’t have to wait for stops to send email – and more importantly, it will let you play Super Mario Run on the go.
Obviously, that’s not how TfL framed it, focusing more on the boon for productivity where the office is extended to that most conducive of working environments: the tiny gap between the Tube carriage doors and a business man’s armpit. “The success of this trial shows that we are on track to unlock one of the UK’s most high profile not-spots and deliver 4G mobile coverage throughout our tunnels and Tube stations,” said Graeme Craig, director of commercial development at TfL. “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.”
The trial took place on the Waterloo and City line, which is closed on weekends for easy testing, and involved EE, Vodafone, Three and O2. Given the line comprises of just two stops – Waterloo and Bank – it’s hardly the most pressing point to be upgraded with 4G reception, but you have to start somewhere. Now the race is on to find a service provider to deliver the extra coverage on the remaining ten Tube lines – something TfL will begin in the new year.