The FT is reporting that privately-held Chinese Mobile phone manufacturer Huawei is all set to sign a deal with London Underground to install a mobile network on the London’s underground Tube system – and they’ll do it for free.
Against the clock
The deal would see telecoms equipment being provided by the Chinese company, whilst installation and maintenance would be taken care of by Thales.
The cost of installing an underground network is reckoned to be above £50 million, but the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson is mustard keen to equip the Underground with improved Wi-Fi and mobile coverage in time for the 2012 Olympics.
The telecoms equipment will be installed along the roof of the underground’s tunnels, although some are already expressing concerns at both the short timespan, and the involvement of Huawei after the company ran into problems in the States.
That said, BT is already using Huawei’s equipment in the UK and – crucially – they’re apparently the only company interested in taking on the job and they’re offering to do it for free, with the Sunday Times reporting that Huawei is presenting the offer as a gift ‘from one Olympic host nation to another’.
Transport for London (TfL),haven’t issued an official response but commented that, “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.”