“Hello Can You Hear Me? I’m Underground”

 ‘Hang on. I’m on the Tube. I’ll call you back’. Millions of passengers using the Underground each day know that they’ll lose their mobile signal once they descend into TfL’s tube network.

For some, it’s a blessed relief and a chance to read, chat, people watch or just day dream. For others, it’s intensely frustrating, especially if they’ve used underground services in other cities, such as Berlin, Paris and New York, which have all had full mobile coverage for several years.

Well, watch out those lovers of silence as TfL has just announced that it’s preparing to install 4G on the Tube network. It will start the process of finding a supplier later this month when it kicks off a bidding process. A number of companies have already indicated that they would bid including BT (naturally) and Chinese technology giant Huawei.

Huawei’s involvement could raise eyebrows as there has been concerns expressed in the past that the Chinese government’s spies may then be able to steal our national secrets by eavesdropping on mobile conversations held underground.

We’re clearly not experts in matters of national security, but we have inadvertently listened to a few mobile conversations in our time (or been forced to, depending how loudly the caller was talking) and we’re pretty sure that the spies will not hear much that will excite them.

Tfl has confirmed that  it could subsidise the construction of the network, which it’s anticipating will cost hundreds of millions of pounds and  that it might also seek to enter into a revenue sharing deal with the telecoms company.

No start date has been given for the new service but for those of you that want to be ‘always on’ then it can’t come soon enough.

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