Still no Cellular in the London Tube

I really like London and do come here often, but as soon as I go down an escalator to take the tube, my cellular signal fades away and I feel like my hands are bound until I surface again at the other end of the trip.

That feeling is of course heightened by having good underground coverage in most other cities I usually travel to and I keep wondering why on earth London, capital of a nation that has fierce competition amongst network operators and good network coverage hasn't come around on this issue yet!?

Even in mobile markets that aren't known for their competitive environment such as France, the metro is fully covered, even between the underground stations. Worries about terrorists using the network for their purposes are in my opinion also no good reason for not going forward. Previous attacks unfortunately worked despite no cellular network being present to trigger anything.

Also, arguments that it's difficult to find space for cables also don't count as Transport of London has just finished deploying their underground Tetra network. Signaling equipment being sensitive to GSM or UMTS? Unlikely if TETRA (probably on 450 MHz) doesn't confuse the equipment…

And finally to those who argue that people using the phone create disturb others, take a Eurostar to Paris and convince yourself of the opposite. Most people in the metro use their phones for texting, emailing and web browsing as it's just too noisy for lengthy phone calls. So no worries here either.

So please, everyone involved, give yourself a push to finally do it and join the rest of the developed world!

5 thoughts on “Still no Cellular in the London Tube”

  1. If you are truly familiar with the London tranport infrastructure, you are probably aware there are more pressing issues than cellphone coverage… And I am not sure a single network would carry on its own the burden to build wireless capacity in the mess the TFL network already is.

  2. Hi Jt,

    if I understand your comment right, you are quite frustrated with the London Transport System and think the lack of cellular coverage is not the only or most pressing problem they have!? While I can’t say if cellular coverage is their most pressing problem or not I nevertheless think there are many good reasons why they should address it and they surely have the capacity to work on more than one thing at a time.

    Good reasons are additional passenger comfort, passenger security and for some the ability to be more productive and enabled. And last but not least, mobile network providers in all those countries in which metros are covered are usually paying for the effort as it means more revenue for them.

    Kind regards,

  3. the TETRA system was put in to aid safety. The economic case for cellular use may not be so strong. London Underground certainly have many more pressing issues to spend money on and I don’t think it is a priorty for them – they don’t need to attract more passengers as the tube is already overcrowded! So you’d think the network operators might step in to sponsor the work? How much extra revenue would they make? The pay back could take a long time, although if one operator did it first they could lease/sell that capacity to the others. It will happen eventually.

  4. yes, I agree it’s quite annoying but as you said, you cannot talk due to the noise so you already lost a good business case to increase coverage. So, would a “data-only” service bring back enough money to justify the investment? Well, considering that you probably spend on average only 20/30 minutes outside the coverage area and data services are already geared for off-line use, my guess would be no.

    Besides, I would not like to be the one who kills the only moment someone can read the *free* edition of the evening standard 😉

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