Transport for London (TfL) has issued a call for tenders from telecoms companies to install 120 Wi-Fi connections in stations across the network in time for the 2012 London Olympics.
The contract will be awarded to the chosen bidder by the end of 2011, giving the winning company some six months to get the network installed, tested and running, and comes on the back of a successful trial at Charing Cross tube station run by BT.
The first phase of a rollout would involve extending a system already in use for staff at 16 stations to the wider public, and then expanding the network to reach the target of 120 stations.
London mayor Boris Johnson explained that installing a Wi-Fi network on the tube will allow passengers to remain productive when under ground, and will offer enormous benefits during the Olympics.
"The rollout of Wi-Fi technology across our Tube stations will allow Londoners to use mobile devices to pick up their emails, access social media sites and stay in touch with the world above while they traverse our subterranean transport network," he said.
"We are inviting companies to bid to do this before next June, which would mean that Londoners going underground will be able to keep up to date with the British medal tally at the 2012 Games."
The service will not operate on trains, but a mobile phone network across the underground and on trains could become a reality after Huawei offered to donate equipment worth over £100m to help with the installation of the network.
However, it is debatable whether there is actually much desire for a mobile phone network on the tube.
Some 41 per cent of V3.co.uk readers said the Tube is noisy enough already without the prospect of passengers being able to use phones under ground.
A further 20 per cent thought that the plans could actually heighten the terrorist threat. Mobile phones have been used in the past to remotely detonate explosive devices.
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