Transport for London in talks with Huawei over Underground mobile wireless network

London Underground could soon receive a mobile network from Chinese manufacturer Huawei.

London Underground could soon receive a mobile network from Chinese manufacturer Huawei, according to reports.

Huawei is the only equipment provider in the running for the mobile network and is in final stages of talks with Transport for London (TfL) and the Mayor of London to provide the mobile equipment, said the Financial Times. French aerospace company Thales - along with UK's mobile operators - will install the network, reported the newspaper.

A spokesman for TfL told Computer Weekly confirmed discussions were ongoing. "Given the financial pressures on TfL's budgets, any solution would need to be funded through mobile operators with no cost to fare or taxpayers," he added.

Ovum analyst Richard Thurston said the move would benefit the city: "The London Underground has been one of the UK's worst mobile blackspots and is almost unique among major European city metro networks in having no mobile coverage. Now Londoners can look forward to being more productive on the move. This network will bring real and measurable economic benefits that the UK badly needs."

However, it is unlikely the network will be ready for the Olympics in 2012. Thurston said. "The project has been delayed for years because of revenue sharing, infrastructure sharing and installation challenges. Most of those challenges remain and we expect this project will continue to prove troublesome."

Fears have been raised the links with China could represent a security risk. But Thurston said such suspicions were overstated. "It would be extremely difficult for a cybersecurity attack to be launched using just one vendor's equipment," he said.

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