During the Olympics and until the end of January 2013, Virgin Media offered a free London Tube-based public Wi-Fi. However, completely free access for all is now restricted.
Customers of networks EE (including T-Mobile and Orange) and Vodafone continue to get free Wi-Fi on the Underground system, as do Virgin Media broadband and mobile subscribers. And, as of June, O2 customers will get free access too. Londoners on other providers, however, have to pay.
So how does Tube Wi-Fi work? Where can you get it and how much does it cost? Read on to find out.
What stations will have Wi-Fi?
There are now 120 stations already running Wi-Fi, which Virgin Media lists in a handy alphabetical guide: my.virginmedia.com/wifi/station-guide.html. Stations covered tend to be the more central stops, such as Oxford Circus and Liverpool Street, but there are a few more-remote ones added too, especially on the major lines.
How can I get Wi-Fi access?
Getting hold of a Wi-Fi connection on the London Underground used to be very straightforward, but has changed now that it is only free to certain networks and on PAYG for others. Partner providers have been sending out email instructions to all of their customers, so check your in-box for the process you will need to undertake the first time you connect. Thankfully, it seems that you only have to do it once and your device will recognise the network every time it is in range.
Those not on EE, Vodafone, O2 (from June) or are not Virgin Media broadband or mobile customers will have to buy a daily, weekly or monthly pass. Virgin Media requires you to register first on its dedicated Tube Wi-Fi internet page: my.virginmedia.com/wifi/index.html.
How much will it cost?
As mentioned above, Tube Wi-Fi access for those not on the partnered networks or with Virgin Media will need to pay for a daily, weekly or monthly pass. Prices are straightforward. It will cost £2 per day, £5 for a week's access, or £15 a month for a Virgin Media Wi-Fi pass. The company has also added a limited offer incentive to help the transition to a paid model - a two-month pass is also available for £15, representing a saving of £15.
Everyone will be able to access the Virgin Media portal which will list other information such as the latest travel updates regardless of whether they subscribe or not.
Is Wi-Fi anywhere else on London's transport network?
TFL is working with BSkyB's The Cloud to provide Wi-Fi on London Overground stations. The service provider has recently announced a deal with Microsoft to offer unlimited free access until 24 April. After that, the 50 connected stations will revert to the previous plan, which was free for the first 60 minutes, before payment plans kick in.