TfL is planning to extend mobile coverage to the London Underground in a move that will see the capital 'catch up' with New York, Tokyo, Seoul, Berlin and Paris, which all offer mobile phone coverage on their city's respective underground services.
The Financial Times reports that Transport for London (TfL) and London mayor Sadiq Khan will invite bids from telecoms companies after next week's general election.
According to the FT, three people "familiar with the plans" said that a 'number of companies were vying for the work', with BAI Communications, Wireless Infrastructure Group and possibly Arqiva named as potential bidders.
The FT notes that BT-owned EE, which has already been in discussions with TfL as part of the Emergency Services Network contract run by EE, will likely also throw its hat into the ring, along with equipment makers Huawei and Airvana.
It's not yet clear how the whole thing would work, but the FT's report notes that building the network could cost hundreds of millions of pounds, noting that TfL might enter into a revenue sharing deal with the telecoms companies involved.
TfL has confirmed the report today. "We are keen to offer full mobile phone coverage for our customers," a TfL spokesperson told the FT. "The introduction of this would need to be commercially viable and would follow engagement with staff and customers."
William Newton, EMEA director at WiredScore, seems to think it's a good thing.
"While a number of stations along the TfL network already offer users WiFi services, full mobile phone coverage will enable users to fully make the most of their time on the tube - whether that's checking Facebook or replying to emails," he said.
"And with such vast lengths of time on the underground begrudgingly spent by commuters across the city every day, there's no question that this will be a very welcome improvement to TfL's service."
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