UK operators not bringing mobile coverage to Tube for London Olympics

The plan to provide travellers on London's Underground tube network with mobile coverage in time for next year's Olympics has fallen apart. While the UK's four operators said they had worked closely with infrastructure partners and Tube operator Transport for London, they said they will not be able to deliver a service in time for the 2012 Olympics.

"We are disappointed that it will not be possible to deliver such services in time for next year's Olympic Games," Vodafone, Everything Everywhere, Telefonica's O2, and 3 said in a joint statement.

Insiders, however, reported that the discussions had failed after the four operators baulked at the level of funding required and the tight deadlines associated with the project.

The infrastructure vendor Huawei--the only company named as a potential supplier--had indicated that it would provide equipment worth between £50 million and £100 million to help with the deployment as a gift to the London Olympics.

According to a report in The Register indicated that Huawei planned to build a Shared Radio Access Network for 2G and 3G based on its SingleRAN products to provide coverage of 115 underground stations, 10 above-ground stations and the underground tunnels.

But Huawei had warned those involved that space and power supplies at Tube stations were both limited, and any heat created by the hardware had to be managed. Also, the narrow walkways, escalators and staircases limited the choice of antennas and transmit power to provide adequate cellphone coverage.

Further issues arose when the planners were told that installation engineers could only have access to the underground train tunnels for just three hours a night, considered as insufficient for completing the £150 million project.

For more:
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this The Register article
- see this V3 article
- see this Mobile Today article

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