Rumour Mill: Operators bid for London Underground Wi-Fi contract

Having failed earlier this year to reach agreement with suppliers on providing mobile phone coverage in London's Underground train tunnels, Transport for London (TfL) has now halted any further work on the project, according to a report in Mobile Today, .

The report, which cited unnamed sources, said that instead, TfL has issued a multimillion-pound tender that asks potential suppliers to install Wi-Fi coverage in 120 Underground stations.

Insiders claim that Everything Everywhere, O2, 3UK and Vodafone are keen to win the business, with BT and Virgin Media wanting to secure the fixed-line part of the deal.

The TfL tender apparently calls for the contract to be awarded by the end of this year, which will make installation of the service in time for the 2012 London Olympics difficult to achieve given the problems of installing equipment in subterranean stations. TfL issued a press release earlier this year claiming it would have Wi-Fi access in its stations in time for the Olympics next summer.

The TfL cellular voice project was severely hampered by issues surrounding the installation of repeaters every 100 metres, together with limited access for contractors to the tunnels. The situation was made more difficult when the main contractor, Thales, and the mobile operators failed to agree to contractual terms.

For more:
- see this Mobile Today article

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