TfL opens Tube Wi-Fi bids

TfL has opened the bidding for a contract for Wi-Fi infrastructure on the London Underground, which it says will be in place in some stations by June 2012, in time for the Olympics
Written by Tom Espiner, Contributor

Transport for London has opened bidding for a contract to provide Wi-Fi in 120 London Underground stations.

Tube Wi-Fi

Transport for London has opened bidding for a contract to provide Wi-Fi services on the London Underground. Photo credit: CokeeOrg on Flickr

The corporation has opened bidding for a contract worth an undisclosed sum, Transport for London (TfL) said in a statement on Friday.

"We're going to the market," a TfL spokeswoman told ZDNet UK. "It's open to mobile companies, telecoms companies and ISPs."

The contract is due to be awarded by the end of 2011, and TfL hopes that Wi-Fi coverage will be available in certain stations by June 2012, just before the London Olympic Games begin.

"The roll-out of Wi-Fi technology across the platforms and public areas of our Tube stations will finally 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," said mayor of London Boris Johnson in the TfL statement.

We're going to the market. It's open to mobile companies, telecoms companies and ISPs.
– TfL spokeswoman

The initial rollout will be to 16 stations that have a Wi-Fi intranet for staff, said the TfL spokeswoman. The idea is that the intranet will be hooked up to the internet and opened to the public. Both staff and public Wi-Fi will run on the same infrastructure. Details of how the networks will be secured were unavailable at the time of writing.

Works on the stations to install the Wi-Fi infrastructure are not likely to disrupt services, said the TfL spokeswoman, who described the likely disruption as "minimal".

Wi-Fi has been trialled at Charing Cross Tube station with BT Openzone.

Companies are also bidding to install a mobile phone network on the Tube, with Chinese company Huawei as the preferred bidder, according to reports in February. The TfL spokeswoman declined to confirm the reports on Friday.

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