Tube travellers to get mobile coverage on London Underground

The London Underground is planning on making it possible for travellers to use their mobile phones on the concourse, platform and ticket halls in plans announced today.

The plans which will see a system up and running by 2008 has the full backing of the Mayor Ken Livingstone.

"We know that many Londoners would like the convenience of being able to use their mobile phones at Tube stations throughout the Underground network. We also want to see how the technology could be taken even further, for instance wireless internet so passengers could receive up-to-the-minute travel information via their laptop or mobile phone."

Trials will start in one station, yet to be announced as early as next year, although there is currently no plans to make the service available actually on the trains in the tunnels, although the LU didn't rule out such a plan of action in the foreseeable future.

It's not the first time a the London Underground has toyed with the idea of allowing people to use their phones underground. In the 1980's a Hutchinson, the now owner of 3, the 3G network once ran the Rabbit base stations. Subscribers to the service could make mobile calls when they were within 100 metres of a Rabbit transmitter, and hence use there phone underground. None have survived to the present day. All that remains of Rabbit are a few lonely signs in places such as New Barnet and Brighton stations.

The London Underground is openly looking for proposals from the private sector to help it implement the service.