Virgin Media to bring Wi-Fi to London Tube this summer
Wireless internet access is coming to London Underground stations... finally. Virgin Media has announced a deal with the Tube network and plans to introduce the service this summer.
The service, which Virgin Media says will be free, was announced on Wednesday by Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London. It will mean public access Wi-Fi at up to 120 Tube station platforms at zero cost to the fare or tax-payer.
Tube-happy Wi-Fi will be available this summer, presumably to cater for the millions of visitors to the capital who plan to attend the Olympic Games. They will be able to check what's happening or tweet their feelings about the city while underground.
To begin with, the service will not be available on trains, with Virgin Media currently confirming only that the stations themselves will be online.
Virgin Media, in partnership with London Underground, will introduce Wi-Fi at more than 80 stations ahead of the summer. By the end of 2012, up to 120 of the more than 270 Tube stations will be connected.
“It's vital that we harness the massive opportunities stemming from the digital revolution, by creating a vibrant, world class industry to attract investment and create jobs for Londoners," said Johnson.
"Millions of passengers will now be able to connect to their work, friends or access the latest news and travel information while on the move. This is a fabulous new and free resource which will be in place from this summer when London is being showcased on a global stage and playing host to millions."
Some are fearful that the move will mean the Tube ceases to be a quiet haven free from email or interruption. Although the deal looks like it is data-only rather than voice as well, it is unclear whether services such Skype will be available.
"We welcome any news that can bring better connectivity to the British public. However, it will divide commuters, many of whom still relish the fact that the Underground is a mobile-free zone," Ernest Doku, from uSwitch told Pocket-lint.
"Those who like peace and quiet on their commute can take solace in knowing that while people will be able to browse the internet and send emails, they won't be able to make phone calls just yet."
Also unsure is whether the London Underground will be ready for the barrage of tweets that will no doubt flood the internet when trains are late.