Three and EE sign up for London Underground coverage

22 December 2021, 14:30   By Dr Lucy Brown, Editor

Mobile operators sign deal to provide mobile services to passengers on the London Underground.

Some of the busiest stations on the network will be connected by the end of 2022 with all stations and trains across the Tube network set to receive coverage by the end of 2024.

The deployment will be focused on delivering 4G speeds to passengers but it will also be 5G-ready.

Another mobile operator, Vodafone, is in talks to sign up to a deal too and an announcement in expected in early 2022.


EE and Three

EE and Three have become the first operators to sign up to a new agreement to deliver mobile services on the London Underground.

This will see mobile services deployed across the whole network including ticket halls, platforms and in the tunnels by the end of 2024.

The first stations are already being connected with an emphasis on busy locations such as Tottenham Court Road and Oxford Circus. The first locations should be connected by the end of 2022.

Vodafone have confirmed they are also in talks to sign up to the agreement and say they expect to make an announcement in January 2021.

Coverage at London Underground stations is also provided by the Virgin Media network and is used by several network operators including EE and Three.

Find out more about wi-fi hotspots in the UK and on the Tube.

Coverage deal

This mobile coverage deal came about after Transport for London (TfL) announced earlier this year they had awarded a contract to infrastructure firm BAI Communications to build a network on the London Underground before making it available to mobile network operators (MNOs) like EE and Three.

Overall, BAI expect to invest more than £1bn as part of the Connected London programme which will eventually see coverage spread to all tunnels on the network.

It will also expand to incorporate a full-fibre network that will connect to buildings and street furniture to harness the power of 5G and the potential of the Internet of Things (IoT).

Improved connectivity

One of the driving forces behind the plan to connect the London Underground tunnels to the internet is to help improve the user experience while they're on trains.

Connectivity using this new network will allow passengers to stay in touch while on the move, although it is a huge undertaking requiring 2,000 kilometres of cabling to reach the entire network.

The London Underground isn't the only place in the UK where coverage improvements are taking place, even if it is a unique case.

Thanks to the Shared Rural Network (SRN) agreement finalised in March 2020, all four mobile network operators are improving their signal in remote areas.

This includes more than 200 new masts to be shared by Three, O2 and Vodafone alongside EE's commitment to upgrade 4G services in more than 500 locations by the end of 2021.

EE recently confirmed they were expanding 4G services in more than 2,000 areas by the middle of 2024 as part of their commitment to the SRN.

Overall, the efforts of mobile networks are helping to reduce the number of mobile not-spots in the UK and now, thanks to the infrastructure from BAI Communications, there will be unprecedented coverage on the London Underground too.

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