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London Underground mobile coverage: TfL close to a deal?

Huawei reported to be in the running to install £50m Tube network...
Written by Natasha Lomas, Contributor

Huawei reported to be in the running to install £50m Tube network...

Tube train: TfL to close deal to bring mobile coverage to London Underground?

TfL is in talks to extend mobile phone coverage to the London Underground
Photo: Annie Mole

Transport for London (TfL) is close to securing a deal to bring mobile phone coverage to the London Underground Tube network in time for the London 2012 Olympic Games, according to a report in The Sunday Times.

The paper says Chinese telecoms kit maker Huawei is poised to spend £50m to fund the installation of a mobile network on the London Underground. Previous attempts to extend mobile coverage to the deep Tube have faltered on cost grounds, with TfL tendering for a trial of mobile connectivity in 2007 which never took place after TfL said it did not receive any commercially "credible" bids.

TfL today declined to confirm whether Huawei is in the running to get mobile coverage on the Tube but did confirm talks are "ongoing" with third-party companies.

"Transport for London and the Mayor of London are currently in discussion with mobile phone operators and other suppliers about the potential provision of mobile phone services on the deep Tube network," it said in a statement.

"Given the financial pressures on TfL's budgets, any solution would need to be funded through mobile operators with no cost to fare or taxpayers. Discussions are ongoing."

Huawei confirmed it is involved in the bidding process but declined to comment further. "Due to business confidentiality, we are unable to comment on the project at this point but we can confirm that we are involved in the bidding process," a company spokesperson said in a statement.

"The UK is an important market for Huawei, and we endeavour to provide secure, technologically advanced communication services to the British people," it added.

Last year it emerged that the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, was in talks with TfL to get mobile coverage to Underground tunnels and stations in time for the London 2012 Olympics.

In another development last year, London Underground kicked off a six-month trial of wi-fi access at Charing Cross station for BT Openzone customers.

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