London Underground to Put Wi-Fi Hotspots in 120 Stations
London's underground railway network has announced plans to fit out 120 stations with Wi-Fi coverage by June 2012 - just in time for the London 2012 Olympics. Transport for London said that a contract will be awarded to the chosen bidder by the end of 2011.
The trial at Charing Cross deep-level underground station, which began in November 2010, tested how the Wi-Fi service worked and also looked at passenger reactions over several months.
The first phase of wider Wi-Fi provision on the Tube would be to make available the service currently used by London Underground (LU) staff at 16 stations for passenger use, and then to work to expand this service to other Underground stations.
Research from Charing Cross Tube station found that over half of LU passengers surveyed felt that access to Wi-Fi would make their experience of using the Tube better.
Many people questioned have said they would like to see this service rolled out to more stations on the Underground and that connecting to a wireless broadband hotspot with a Wi-Fi enabled device at a Tube station is very useful.
London Underground said that it expects the tender to be of interest to existing service providers and other established internet service providers looking to expand into the public Wi-Fi market.
As well as improving journeys for passengers, Wi-Fi services are a potential future revenue source for the train network.
The service will not extend to the trains themselves.
This invitation to tender will also allow prospective partners to supply details of how they would create a Wi-Fi network at street level at places such as bus shelters or bus hubs.
Transport for London (TfL) 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.
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.
The trial at Charing Cross Tube station is ongoing and customers will continue to be able to access Wi-Fi at the station until later this year.