Jubilee line passengers will be able to make and receive mobile phone calls on platforms and in tunnels for the first time from March 2020 after Transport for London confirmed it will switch on 4G coverage between Westminster and Canning Town for a trial period.
The trial will run ahead of TfL appointing a concessionaire to deliver mobile coverage across the whole Underground network.
These public services will use the same infrastructure being installed to support the new 4G emergency services network but will operate separately and will be funded by TfL and their contractor which will then strike commercial carriage agreements with individual mobile operators.
TfL says the services will build on its successful deployment of free WiFi coverage which allows passengers to check emails, update social media and stay in touch while waiting for their Tube.
Four potential concessionaires – Axia SC Consortium, BAI Communications, Cellnex UK Ltd and Wireless Infrastructure Group – have already been shortlisted and the tender process will move on to its next stage over the Summer.
Mayor Sadiq Khan said: “I’m delighted that we will be introducing mobile connectivity to the London Underground from next March. This is a really important step for the millions of people who use the Tube each year.
“Introducing 4G and, in the future, 5G will help Londoners and visitors keep in touch and get the latest travel information while on the go. London is the best place to live, visit and work – and projects like this will help make it even better.”
Shashi Verma, Chief Technology Officer at TfL added: “The London Underground network is an incredibly challenging environment in which to deliver technological improvements, but we are now well on the path to delivering mobile connectivity within our stations and tunnels.
“We have begun the complex work to allow our customers to be able to get phone reception within our tunnels from March 2020, with more stations and lines coming online during the coming years.”
Theo Blackwell, London’s Chief Digital Officer, said “This is welcome progress on a very significant step forward in connectivity Londoners can look forward to from early next year. It forms part of our work to improve digital connectivity at home, in our high streets, public spaces and across the transport network.”