The news: London’s mayor Sadiq Khan announced passengers on the London Underground will have mobile reception by 2024, per The Verge. If all goes according to plan, Khan’s campaign would bring mobile connectivity throughout the entire Tube network comes just as ridership has plummeted due to the pandemic.
The project, a partnership with BAI Communications, requires laying 1,242 miles of cabling within tunnels and stations, and could have a financial upside for the transport authority. The cabling installed in the London Underground will also improve connections in surrounding buildings and increase overall 4G and future 5G coverage, per city transit authority Transport for London.
The bigger picture: Enabling reliable mobile connectivity in a city’s subway network is one of the bigger challenges facing local governments and their network partners around the world. Offering connectivity in public transport has been a mostly aspirational objective for larger cities, but the lack of planning and telecom partnerships is a constant challenge.
London’s move to provide end-to-end connectivity by 2024 could serve as a blueprint for other large cities to deploy their own transit connectivity infrastructure. Extending cellular networks into subways also has wider implications for developing successful smart-city projects.