London Underground to Introduce Wi-Fi Network in time for Olympics

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The London Underground will be introducing a Wi-Fi network in 80 stations just in time for the upcoming summer Olympics. The contract was awarded to Virgin Media and will mean that Wi-Fi will be available in ticket halls, escalators and platforms, but not between stations.

The London Underground has inked a deal with Virgin Media to provide wireless internet access in 80 subway stations in London before the 2012 Olympics and in an additional 40 stations by the end of the year. Though the announcement means internet still won’t be available for passengers in between stations, those who need to stay connected while purchasing their tickets, walking through the station and waiting for the train will be able to do so. According to a Virgin spokesman, the service is being provided at no cost to London Underground and will be fully funded by the company’s capital expenditure budget for 2012.

Passengers will be able to access the service for free during the Olympics and Paralympics, however, once the games are finished, it will only be free for passengers who want to access live Transport for London travel information, not for other services. All other services will be charged on a pay as you go basis and existing Virgin customers will be able to pay for the service through their subscriptions if they wish to do so.

Although clearly aimed to ease the pain of being unconnected while traveling through the city, the Wi-Fi system will also make it easier for the London Underground workers to be more movble.

Transport for London’s CIO Steve Townsend said, “It affects us greatly. Once we’ve got that capability rolled out, we can dramatically change how we deliver services to Transport for London. No longer are we tied to a fixed copper and fiber in the ground delivery mechanism and we can reduce costs maybe on the networks, maybe on the terminal equipment, and the types of equipment we interface with is dramatically different.”

Source: The Guardian

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