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TfL halts plans for tube mobile network in time for the Olympic games

Jenny Williams

Transport for London (TfL) has shelved plans to install a mobile network on London's underground in time for the Olympic games in 2012.

In February 2011, reports suggested TfL was in the final stages of talks with UK mobile operators and Huawei to provide equipment for a mobile network next year.

But, in a joint statement, UK mobile network operators, Vodafone, Everything Everywhere, 3 and O2 said, "We have been working closely with infrastructure partners and London Underground for some time in the hope of delivering mobile services to the London Underground and are disappointed that it will not be possible to deliver such services in time for next year's Olympic games. As a group, we will continue to positively explore all other avenues available to us in order to provide a service at a later date."

A TfL spokesperson says mobile operators were unable to agree a "viable proposal" to roll out mobile phone services without a rise in fares or additional cost for taxpayers.

According to the Wall Street Journal, a leaked memo from the mayoral policy director for economic development, Anthony Browne, reveals that the decision was commercial rather than influenced by any security issues. Browne confirms that mobile coverage on the London underground is still a "long-term aspiration" for the mayor of London, Boris Johnson.

TfL are currently inviting telecoms companies to tender for wi-fi provision for up to 120 stations across the London network, so that commuters will be able to access laptops and mobile phone wi-fi before the 2012 Olympics.


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