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Underground mobile coverage plans delayed

Six month trial due next year to test technology

Plans that would allow mobile phones to be used in London Underground tunnels have been put back at least a year, it was announced today.

It had been hoped to make mobile coverage available throughout the Tube from mid-2008 onwards.

But the introduction has proved more difficult than originally thought and today London Underground (LU) said that the earliest date for extending mobile phone and new technology coverage across the network was mid-2009.

Six month trial

In the meantime, a six-month trial will start ‘in April 2008 at the earliest’ which will make mobile phone coverage available on the Waterloo and City platforms at Bank and Waterloo stations.

Coverage will also extend to tunnels between the two stations.

LU strategy and service development director Richard Parry said: ‘The below-ground sections of the Underground (accounting for 45 per cent of the network) are one of the few places in London where you are unable to use a mobile phone.

‘We recognise that there is now growing demand for mobile coverage to be extended to deep-level sections of the Tube.’

Commercially viable

He added: ‘The key aim of the trial is to conclude whether it is technically and commercially viable for coverage to be extended across the Tube network.

‘Should the trial prove a technical and commercial success, then LU will consider how to provide mobile phone and telecommunications services across the Tube network.

‘If the trial is not a success, then LU will not proceed with plans to extend mobile phone coverage to the Tube.’

In an LU survey of 1,007 respondents conducted last month, 34 per cent said that they would be very likely to use a mobile phone in all parts of the Tube, including trains and stations, if it was available.

A total of 22 per cent said they would be fairly likely to use a mobile, 19 per cent not very likely and 23 per cent not at all likely.

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