Keen to get it all working in time for the 2012 Olympics, TfL have invited telecoms companies to tender for wi-fi provision at up to 120 stations across the network by June 2012.
Following a successful trial of BT Openzone wi-fi technology at Charing Cross Tube station, TfL are looking first make available the service currently used by London Underground (LU) staff at 16 stations, and then roll this out to many more Underground stations.
Big bad Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, piped up:
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.
We are inviting companies to bid to do this before next June, which would mean that even Londoners going underground will be able to keep up to date with the British medal tally at the 2012 Games.
Update: 1st April: It now looks like a non starter:
Mobile operators have said they won’t be able to install a mobile network in London’s Underground network ahead of the Olympics.
The UK’s mobile operators had been looking at installing a network by next summer, but Everything Everywhere, O2, Vodafone and 3 said in a group statement it simply wasn’t possible.
“We have been working closely with infrastructure partners and London Underground for some time with the hope of delivering mobile services to London Underground and are disappointed that it will not be possible to deliver such services in time for next year’s Olympic Games,” the statement said.
As a group we will continue to positively explore all other avenues available to us in order to provide a service at a later date