The Mayor of London's office announced on Tuesday that many London Underground stations will get Wi-Fi access in summer 2012 through a deal with Virgin Media. More than 80 stations will have the service in the summer, with up to 120 stations in total connected by the end of 2012.
The service will be free initially, becoming chargeable at an unspecified rate after an unspecified sporting event — widely thought to be the Olympics — occurring in the capital during the summer, Virgin Media told ZDNet UK, although it intends to keep the service free for its existing customers. Travel information will remain free for all.
Virgin Media has won a contract to bring Wi-Fi access to London Underground stations.
"This is a fabulous new and free resource which will be in place from this summer when London is being showcased on a global stage and playing host to millions," London Mayor Boris Johnson said in a statement.
The coverage will not extend into tunnels, being limited to station concourses, escalators and platforms.
Plans to introduce access in stations and tunnels have faced a variety of delays. In April 2011, a number of mobile phone companies reported the failure of negotiations to install phone coverage in the London Underground system, even though certified equipment was available for free installation from suppliers.
At the time of that deal breaking down, Transport for London said that it was putting mobile phone coverage on hold but pressing ahead with station-only Wi-Fi coverage. It said at that point that it expected to award the contract by the end of 2011.