London gets underground, overground connectivity

A major London not-spot is to be filled, enabling London’s commuters to stay connected while travelling around the city. Transport for London (TfL) has awarded a 20-year concession to BAI Communications (BAI) which will extend mobile coverage to the whole Tube network by the end of 2024, providing a long-term revenue stream that is set to be reinvested back into transport improvements.

Since March 2020, TfL has been running a pilot on the eastern half of the Jubilee line covering station platforms and tunnels between Westminster and Canning Town. The pilot section will now be adopted by BAI, with uninterrupted 4G coverage expanded to ticket halls, platforms and tunnels across the entire network. Work is already underway, with the first stations – including Oxford Circus, Tottenham Court Road, Euston, Bank and Camden Town – expected to go live by the end of 2022.

London’s Tube network will also be used to provide a 2,000 kilometre full-fibre network across the city, which can then be connected to buildings and street assets such as lighting and bus stops. This will support 5G rollout city-wide and will bring fibre directly into London’s neighbourhoods, creating new opportunities to serve homes and businesses with gigabit-capable speeds and boosting digital inclusion.

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London

Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, said: “I’m delighted to be announcing today that…full internet access will be available across the Tube, with key central London stations such as Oxford Circus and Euston set to benefit before the end of next year.

BAI was awarded the concession after a competitive tender process. The company has experience of deploying communications networks in dense urban environments such as New York, Toronto and Hong Kong. The neutral host network being delivered as part of this concession will be the most advanced of its kind in the world and available for mobile operators to use as backhaul. The infrastructure will be 5G-ready by design, positioning for seamless 4G-5G upgrading.

Billy D’Arcy, CEO of BAI Communications, UK

Billy D’Arcy, CEO of BAI Communications UK, commented: “Our long-term partnership with TfL will completely transform the passenger experience, as well as helping to boost London’s economy and providing social benefits for years to come. Across the length of this concession, we fully anticipate investing in excess of £1 billion across the Connected London programme.”

The network will also host the Home Office’s new Emergency Services Network, which will replace the existing Airwave system currently used by the Police, Fire Services and emergency response teams across the United Kingdom. TfL has ensured that the latest requirements for the Emergency Services Network are fully incorporated and addressed within the network design.