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EE unveils 5G connectivity for London Underground

Just weeks after 4G landed on the Central and Northern lines for the first time, BT-owned operator now brings 5G to the Tube, with Archway, Notting Hill Gate and Tufnell Park the first stations to benefit

Almost four years after 4G mobile connectivity was first trialled on the London Underground, EE customers are now able to enjoy 5G connectivity on the Tube network, with high-speed coverage live at three stations, namely Archway and Tufnell Park on the Northern line, as well as Notting Hill Gate on the Central line. 

Run by Transport for London (TfL), the London Underground network is one of the world’s largest underground networks, used by more than five million passengers a day before the pandemic. Once fully delivered, more than 2,000km of cabling will be installed in tunnels and stations, all of which will be fitted outside of operational hours.

As well as benefiting customers, providing connectivity on the Tube network is seen as a way of generating additional revenue for TfL, along with helping operational teams by providing better connectivity while underground.

In addition to continuous 5G coverage from ticket hall to platform at all three stations, 5G is also live within the tunnel segment at Notting Hill Gate. The same will be true for Archway and Tufnell Park shortly. This will enable passengers to communicate with friends and colleagues or stream content uninterrupted.

In December 2022, these three stations were among the first beyond the eastern half of the Jubilee Line to benefit from EE’s 4G coverage, and the arrival of 5G is seen as the next significant step in the operator’s plans to roll out mobile coverage across the entire London Underground network, as well as the newly opened Elizabeth line, by the end of 2024. 5G will be extended to the tunnels surrounding each of the stations in the near future as part of the ongoing roll-out, which will also see both 4G and 5G arrive at a host of new stations throughout 2023 and beyond.

“It’s great to see super high-speed 5G mobile connectivity now available at a number of Tube stations, proving that the state-of-the-art technology being installed across the network is already future-proofed and adaptable for the next generation of mobile signal,” said London’s chief digital officer Theo Blackwell MBE.

The mayor committed to Londoners that we would deliver 4G throughout the Tube network as part of his determination to build a better London for everyone, and today marks the latest step forward as we work to improve digital connectivity at home, in our high streets, public spaces and across the transport network,” he added.

Coverage is being provided through a partnership between TfL and connected infrastructure provider BAI Communications, which will link up EE’s mobile network to BAI’s Tube-level infrastructure. BAI’s multi-carrier network connects London Underground’s stations and tunnels both with each other and with the outside world. EE’s mobile network then connects to the BAI infrastructure via base stations from Nokia’s AirScale radio access portfolio to ensure immediate and continuous mobile coverage to customers.

Nokia is supplying and installing the equipment, activating and validating the infrastructure for EE’s mobile services. AirScale radios and baseband units are designed to meet various deployment needs. The base station equipment powered by Nokia’s ReefShark System-on-Chip (SoC) enables high-performance 5G services.

“We are delighted to be selected as EE’s primary network provider for this important project that will provide premium 5G connectivity to commuters on the world-famous London Underground,” said Nokia UK and Ireland CEO Phil Siveter.

“We have worked hand-in-hand with BT for over a quarter of a century and are proud to be their largest equipment and services provider. The scope of this project will include providing coverage across tunnels, platforms and stations, and is another important step forward in the digitisation of the UK economy.”

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