Transport for London (TfL) and London mayor Boris Johnson are demanding that UK mobile operators foot the bill for the deployment of mobile coverage equipment on the underground.
The entire underground segment of the tube network is currently devoid of any mobile signal, and the authorities are keen to resolve this before the Olympic Games in 2012.
The Mayor of London's office has explained that while deploying network coverage equipment on the underground is technically possible, the unique nature of the infrastructure makes the cost prohibitively high.
However, the Greater London Authority (GLA) has said that it will look to Vodafone, O2, T-Mobile, Orange and Three to split the cost of the deployment, which has been estimated at over £100m.
A GLA spokesperson explained that the body will not use public funds to pay operators to carry out the work, and is instead hoping that market forces will effect the rollout.
"TfL and the Mayor of London are currently in discussions with mobile phone operators and other suppliers about the potential provision of mobile phone services on the deep Tube network," said the spokesperson.
"Given the current pressure on TfL budgets, any solution would need to be funded through mobile operators with no cost to fare or taxpayers. Discussions are ongoing."
The GLA also said that any proposed system would have to provide a credible solution that satisfies technical and commercial considerations.
The tube network carried out over one billion passenger journeys last year, a figure which could help operators justify the cost of the investment, particularly with mobile data use soaring all the time.
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