Without the distraction of smartphones Londoners can get dangerously close to talking to each other on the tube, but social interaction shouldn’t be an issue if TfL has anything to do with it.
After a successful trial delivering a 4G mobile network on the Waterloo & City Line of the London Underground, Transport for London (TfL) has confirmed it will begin tendering for service providers in the New Year to deliver 4G mobile coverage on the Tube from 2019.
“The success of this trial shows that we are on track to unlock one of the UK’s most high profile not-spots and deliver 4G mobile coverage throughout our tunnels and Tube stations,” said Graeme Craig, Director of Commercial Development at TfL.
“This is great news for our customers and will also help us generate vital commercial income to reinvest in modernising and improving transport in London.”
Unlike citizens around the rest of the UK, Londoners are traditionally terrified to interact with strangers. In some circumstances, Londoners have also been known to actively avoid engaging with those they actually know on public transport, to maintain the unwritten rule of ‘no talking, no eye contact’.
Newcomers to London often flout these rules, which can cause almost as much irritation as standing on the right hand side of the escalator when leaving the station. Before too long, the condemning looks from native and naturalized Londoners drowns the social enthusiasm out of the newcomers, dragging them down to the silent misery of the traditional commute.
Should TfL be able to introduce connectivity onto the underground transport network, it would mark a significant milestone for the despondent and depressing Londoner, who wants nothing more than to stare with discontent at emails or discover the latest faddy coffee shop, craft ale pub, patronising art exhibition or restaurant which delivers food in the latest unimaginable method. If everyone else is staring down at a smartphone the London newcomer will have no choice but to bow to social convention; the naturalization to London ways can be accelerated.
“The demand for ubiquitous, fast mobile connectivity is unquestionable,” said Derek McManus, Chief Operating Officer of O2.
“People expect to have connectivity wherever and whenever they are and, by increasing connectivity on the Tube, people will be able to get more out of their journey time. Trials such as these are vital in laying the foundations for customers, especially commuters, to have seamless connectivity on the go.”
The trials on the Waterloo & City Line allowed TfL to practice laying new fibre cables within stations and tunnels, while also testing data calls from one station to another without dropping mobile reception. All four major mobile network operators participated in the design of the trial, while only Vodafone and O2 carried out testing within the tunnels, which took place outside customer hours.
Should the tender go to plan a service partner to be brought on-board by summer 2018 and the first stations will be connected from 2019. Those talkative foreigners won’t have a chance before too long.