BT data centres will give London Underground 4G a welcome boost

(Image credit: Transport for London)

BT has secured a multi-million-pound contract with BAI Communications to deliver data centre services that will help power 4G and Wi-Fi services across the entire London Underground.

BAI has a 20-year concession from Transport for London (TfL) to build and operate a neutral host network available to all four major mobile operators, with the first stations coming online as soon as 2022.

BT’s data centres will play a critical role in delivering the neutral host network and operators will be able to collocate their equipment in these facilities. BT itself has already signed up through EE, while BAI has also signed up Three and Vodafone as customers.

BT data centres 

“Today’s deal is further evidence of BT’s commitment to boost the capital’s digital infrastructure - helping London maintain its status as a great place to live, work, and do business,” added Alex Tempest, Managing Director for BT Wholesale.

The London Underground has long been the UK’s most high profile ‘mobile not spot’ with previous attempts to bring mobile connectivity to the capital’s subterranean railway network all ending in failure. 

Under the terms of its 20-year concession, BAI has joined as a long-term investor, and there are no upfront costs for TfL. All revenues generated by the authority reinvested back into London’s transport system.

BAI’s network will bring 4G connectivity to platforms and tunnels, and the infrastructure will be 5G ready when required. What’s more, the project will see the construction of a full fibre network in the capital that will aid broadband connectivity and provide mobile backhaul services to operators.

“This deal marks a significant step in our progress towards delivering high-speed mobile coverage across the London Underground network, with BT’s data centres playing an essential role in helping London leapfrog other major cities in terms of connectivity,” declared Billy D’Arcy, CEO of BAI Communications UK.

“BT Wholesale’s services will support our neutral host infrastructure in transforming the experience of customers with all UK mobile operators, providing seamless, 5G-ready coverage that will allow passengers to move around the capital more smartly, safely, and securely.”

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.