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Provider selected for 4G and 5G on the Underground

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Mojo

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Press release from TfL: https://tfl-newsroom.prgloo.com/new...-tube-network-as-concession-partner-announced
  • High speed mobile coverage will be delivered across London Underground alongside a new full-fibre network to provide London’s homes and businesses with faster internet and better connectivity
  • The technology, delivered by BAI Communications, will support 4G and 5G rollout and will be the most advanced of its kind in the world, helping to support London’s economic growth
  • Work is now underway across the Tube network, with first stations – including Oxford Circus, Tottenham Court Road, Euston, Bank and Camden Town – going live by the end of 2022
  • This follows successful rollout of 4G on the eastern half of the Jubilee line, which customers have been able to use since March last year
  • Agreement with BAI will provide a long-term revenue stream, which will be reinvested in transport improvements across the capital
Customers on London Underground will be able to access full mobile connectivity and internet access within every station and tunnel, the Mayor of London has today announced.
Transport for London (TfL) has awarded a 20-year concession to BAI Communications (BAI) which will enable mobile coverage on the whole Tube network, helping to remove one of the most high-profile mobile 'not-spots' in the UK.
The concession will see a backbone of mobile and digital connectivity established across London. Uninterrupted 4G mobile coverage has already been introduced on the eastern half of the Jubilee line and will be expanded in phases to ticket halls, platforms and tunnels on the Tube network over the next three years, with all stations and tunnels due to have mobile coverage by the end of 2024. This will allow customers to check the latest travel information, keep on top of their emails and the latest news, catch up on social media, watch videos or make calls throughout their journeys.
London’s Tube tunnels will also be used to provide full fibre connectivity across the city, which can then be connected to buildings and street assets like street lighting and bus stops. This will help to further increase mobile coverage through small mobile transmitters, as well as leveraging the power of 5G to deliver city-wide improvements and future growth. The new high-capacity fibre network will bring fibre directly into London's neighbourhoods, creating new opportunities to serve homes and businesses with gigabit-capable speeds and supporting digital inclusion.
BAI, who was awarded the concession after a competitive tender process, is a leading global provider of 4G and 5G connected infrastructure. The agreement will build on BAI’s significant experience of deploying communications networks in highly dense urban environments across the world, including New York, Toronto and Hong Kong. The neutral host network being delivered as part of this concession will be the most advanced network of its kind in the world and available for use by all mobile operators. The infrastructure will also be 5G ready, allowing for a seamless upgrade for mobile operators in the future.
The London Underground network is one of the world's largest underground networks and prior to the pandemic was used by more than five million passengers a day. Once fully delivered, more than 2,000 kilometres of cabling are expected to be installed within tunnels and stations, all of which will be fitted outside of operational hours. In addition to benefiting customers, providing 4G on the network will generate additional revenue for TfL across the 20-year length of the concession, as well as helping operational teams by providing better connectivity while underground.
To help reduce future disruption, TfL has already begun installing the necessary cabling within a number of stations and tunnels to help reduce the need for additional closures and ensure mobile connectivity can be introduced more easily. This includes cabling already installed on the Jubilee and Victoria lines, as well as within the Northern Line Extension. Work will now begin to prepare some of London’s busiest stations for mobile connectivity, including Oxford Circus, Tottenham Court Road, Bank, Euston and Camden Town, ahead of them being some of the first to be connected by the end of 2022.
 
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Aictos

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Finally because they took their time doing this, Germany has been ahead of them with providing 4G access on its U Bahn and S Bahn networks for over a decade.

As usual London is playing catch-up, when this should have been done in time for the 2012 Olympics.

In other news, I wonder if this is anything to do with Vodafone dropping the free WiFi access for it's customers using the free Virgin WiFi network.
 

Acton1991

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Finally because they took their time doing this, Germany has been ahead of them with providing 4G access on its U Bahn and S Bahn networks for over a decade.

As usual London is playing catch-up, when this should have been done in time for the 2012 Olympics.

In other news, I wonder if this is anything to do with Vodafone dropping the free WiFi access for it's customers using the free Virgin WiFi network.
This is so infuriating, and I think Vodafone are being short sighted in cancelling this agreement. As we all start to use the tube more, with more of us returning to the office and heading into town for leisure, more and more customers are going to realise they are impacted and cannot access WiFi. For me, it’s a reason to move away from Vodafone - and I’m sure it is for many others!
 

Mojo

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This is so infuriating, and I think Vodafone are being short sighted in cancelling this agreement. As we all start to use the tube more, with more of us returning to the office and heading into town for leisure, more and more customers are going to realise they are impacted and cannot access WiFi. For me, it’s a reason to move away from Vodafone - and I’m sure it is for many others!
Vodafone seem to be repositioning themselves from one extreme end of the market (more expensive, but offering reliable and extensive fast coverage, targeting businesses as the go-to network), to the complete opposite end. I’ve noticed my reception (both data speed and voice calls quality/consistency) drop considerably since the start of the year. I’ve been doing some research over the past few weeks as I want to switch companies and on almost all websites, Vodafone come across as consistently the cheapest company (for new customers), so they’re obviously making cut backs in their service to compete on price.
 

Aictos

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Vodafone seem to be repositioning themselves from one extreme end of the market (more expensive, but offering reliable and extensive fast coverage, targeting businesses as the go-to network), to the complete opposite end. I’ve noticed my reception (both data speed and voice calls quality/consistency) drop considerably since the start of the year. I’ve been doing some research over the past few weeks as I want to switch companies and on almost all websites, Vodafone come across as consistently the cheapest company (for new customers), so they’re obviously making cut backs in their service to compete on price.
You may well be right there, I tried Voxi as it looked to tick all the boxes including 5G but only problem was Vodafone don't yet cover areas I visit frequently with 5G so having a 5G capable phone and not be able to use it was one reason why I left to rejoin Three as they actually do provide 5G everywhere I go with maybe one or two exceptions but largely I get 5G in a lot more areas then with Vodafone.

I left Three last year as was fed up of the slow 4G in places but so far, I'm happy with their 5G offering.

This is so infuriating, and I think Vodafone are being short sighted in cancelling this agreement. As we all start to use the tube more, with more of us returning to the office and heading into town for leisure, more and more customers are going to realise they are impacted and cannot access WiFi. For me, it’s a reason to move away from Vodafone - and I’m sure it is for many others!
Indeed, personally I think that Vodafone shouldn't have backed away from the agreement until the 4G coverage is more or less complete for the London Underground indeed there's places that are current 4G blackspots so WiFi is essential in those places.
 

jon0844

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Three has the least 5G coverage of all the networks and Vodafone now employs something called Dynamic Spectrum Sharing that allows 4G spectrum to be also used for 5G. You must be extremely lucky!

My problem with Three is the limited spectrum they have for 4G, which means speeds are often slower than EE and Vodafone, plus despite having 100MHz of 5G spectrum they can use for crazy speeds (1+ Gbps) they only enable most sites for 40MHz (and then don't tell people this) so you can't enjoy the full potential.

Three is cheap though.
 

Aictos

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Vodafone now employs something called Dynamic Spectrum Sharing that allows 4G spectrum to be also used for 5G. You must be extremely lucky!
Didn't know that about Vodaphone, I would hope that others follow suit as to being lucky not really I just carried out real time network tests to see what strength of signal I get and how fast, the fastest I've encountered between London Blackfriars and Rainham (Kent) is at Plumstead which got just over 383.94MB connection with Dartford in second place with 369.52MB connection which is bearing in mind I expect 5G to be over 100MB speeds is as I expect.

Three has the least 5G coverage of all the networks
According to ISPreview amongst others and by personal usage I've found that not to be the case, indeed one condition of choosing a 5G provider for me was the fact that I must be able to get 5G in a minimum of 80% of places I regularly visit and I'm sorry to say that Vodafone failed big time as I was unable to pick up any 5G signal with them however I was able to pick up 5G on Three in 95% of places I visit with the odd exception such as my home.

I've even managed to pick up 5G in places with Three where I'm not meant to pick it up according to their coverage map, now while their 4G network can be lacking at times I've found their 5G network and I've used it since last Friday to be pretty good with me picking up 4G+ or 5G on Three so I

My problem with Three is the limited spectrum they have for 4G, which means speeds are often slower than EE and Vodafone, plus despite having 100MHz of 5G spectrum they can use for crazy speeds (1+ Gbps) they only enable most sites for 40MHz (and then don't tell people this) so you can't enjoy the full potential.
Actually I think you will find that you are actually wrong because they actually have 140MHz of 5G spectrum which is the most 5G spectrum of any UK operator indeed the actual amount of 5G spectrum is as follows:

Three: 140MHz
Vodafone: 90MHz
EE/O2: 80MHz


So not sure why they're only allowing 40MHz of it to be used when they have the biggest amount of 5G spectrum available to customers.

Three is cheap though.
That goes without saying however they do have rivals such as Voxi etc...

As to the Underground, I hope Network Rail come to a similar agreement as there's a number of blackspots in London where a 4G or even a 5G signal be good eg the Thameslink Core between London Blackfriars and Kentish Town/Finsbury Park as to the LUL contractor saying by the end of 2024, I'm sure they could do it by the end of 2023 if they really wanted to although I have to ask would it be faster if they did the Sub-Surface lines first then the Deep-Level lines?
 

TFN

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I just paid to leave my Three contract early and join Voxi! Really happy with their offering on 4G and 5G, as well as VoLTE and WiFi calling. Luckily I have Virgin Media at home so I can use tube WiFi through my Virgin account.

I was shocked when I found out that Vodafone don't offer WiFi anymore on the tube. I hope they rejoin in the future.
 

Jona26

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I'm sure there must be a reason for stations to be done before tunnels but as there is still the Virgin Media offering at most non open air stations for most customers (sorry Vodafone people!) it would seem to make more sense from a passenger point of view to do it the other way round, i.e. tunnels first.
 

Starmill

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I have little 5G coverage on Three anywhere in Greater Manchester. However, I don't particularly feel I need 5G at all and wouldn't want to pay more for it. Although their 4G coverage used to be pretty weak it's good enough now. Three are certainly charging me a competitive rate too.

It is very odd if the cheaper provider allows WiFi on London Underground stations!
 

paul1609

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Three has the least 5G coverage of all the networks and Vodafone now employs something called Dynamic Spectrum Sharing that allows 4G spectrum to be also used for 5G. You must be extremely lucky!

My problem with Three is the limited spectrum they have for 4G, which means speeds are often slower than EE and Vodafone, plus despite having 100MHz of 5G spectrum they can use for crazy speeds (1+ Gbps) they only enable most sites for 40MHz (and then don't tell people this) so you can't enjoy the full potential.

Three is cheap though.
I only really use mobile data on the south coast but Vodafones 4G speeds have really gone downhill. Im on a Max unlimited contract, when I took it out I was frequently getting speeds in the range of FTTC home broadband sometimes pushing 100 Mb download, 18 months later its more like dial up Often under 10 Mb even though in one location Im line of sight to the mast. I also have a 4G router which is on Smarty and that's most managing 30 to 40 Mb at the same location.
 

jon0844

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It is very odd if the cheaper provider allows WiFi on London Underground stations!

For now. Chances are they'll all do the same in due course. Maybe Virgin wants to charge more to the operators, or maybe Vodafone and others have just seen a huge drop in usage (very likely due to the pandemic of course).

I'd have possibly waited until mobile coverage was finished, but clearly Vodafone has to pay Virgin something for the agreement and has decided to save the money to invest elsewhere (or just reduce costs).

I used to use it a lot because it provided speeds you could not get in a Starbucks, or using a mobile. 4G pretty much stopped that, especially unlimited data, as I no longer had a need to go into a train station (perhaps letting a train or two pass) to upload or download large files. I can now do this outside.

The most useful thing for me in recent years was being able to check train times or other information (or use IM to say 'nearly there, just at xxxx' or 'walking up to the exit now, where are you?') and that will be missed if all the networks likely follow Vodafone's lead.
 

Aictos

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I just paid to leave my Three contract early and join Voxi! Really happy with their offering on 4G and 5G, as well as VoLTE and WiFi calling. Luckily I have Virgin Media at home so I can use tube WiFi through my Virgin account.

I was shocked when I found out that Vodafone don't offer WiFi anymore on the tube. I hope they rejoin in the future.
I was on Voxi for a few days and left them as I wasn't getting a 5G signal anywhere on my 5G capable device which I felt was pointless having s capable device but coverage is poor.

I've got Virgin at home too but not yet got around to using the Virgin supplied LUL WiFi.

I have little 5G coverage on Three anywhere in Greater Manchester. However, I don't particularly feel I need 5G at all and wouldn't want to pay more for it. Although their 4G coverage used to be pretty weak it's good enough now. Three are certainly charging me a competitive rate too.

It is very odd if the cheaper provider allows WiFi on London Underground statons.
Why would you pay more for 5G? Only EE and O2 make you as the end user pay a premium as it's only available to Pay Monthly users yet Vodafone and Three make it available to PAYG users.

Three are getting better in my view, they just need more direction from the technical side of the business and less so from the marketing side of the business.
 

Worm

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I have little 5G coverage on Three anywhere in Greater Manchester. However, I don't particularly feel I need 5G at all and wouldn't want to pay more for it. Although their 4G coverage used to be pretty weak it's good enough now. Three are certainly charging me a competitive rate too.

It is very odd if the cheaper provider allows WiFi on London Underground stations!
I get it in random places in Manchester seems to be very little consistency in where they add it, for example I get a strong signal in Newton Heath, a small patch of Failsworth and vaguely at the hospitals on Oxford Road where I work.
 
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