First London Underground tunnels to get 4G connectivity by March 2020

(Image credit: Transport for London)

You'll soon be able to use your smartphone for calls, texts and internet activity on a London Underground train while you're whizzing through a tunnel.

Transport for London has announced that it will bring 4G connectivity to its first section of tunnel in March 2020, allowing passengers to use their handsets as they would above ground.

  • No sign of 5G on the Underground just yet
  • Everything you need to know about 5G in the UK
  • These are the 5G phones currently available

The first section of tunnel to get the 4G connection is the stretch covering nine stations between Westminster and Canning Town on the Jubilee Line.

In 2016/17, the Jubilee Line was the third busiest on the network, with Transport for London revealing it carried 280 million passengers during the period – so 4G connectivity will likely be well received by a large number of travelers.

TfL notes "the service will also cover ticket halls and corridors within stations along this section of the Jubilee line, with the exception of London Bridge and Waterloo stations which, subject to final approvals, will be added later during 2020".

Playing catch-up

London isn't the first city to introduce mobile signal to its underground trains, with several places having offered it for years, such as the Barcelona Metro.

It's a development which is likely to split commuters, with some enjoying the chance to be in a connectivity-free space, though others will be delighted they won't be cut-off from the outside world as they speed across the capital.

However it's not clear which networks will work with the new underground 4G network, with TfL saying it's "in discussion with mobile network operators to ensure their customers can benefit when the first section goes live", so there's a chance not all networks will be supported.

TfL's grand plan is to bring 4G connectivity to the entire Underground network, building on the free WiFi currently offered at 260 of the stations, but it's likely going to take years to complete.

John McCann
Global Managing Editor

John joined TechRadar over a decade ago as Staff Writer for Phones, and over the years has built up a vast knowledge of the tech industry. He's interviewed CEOs from some of the world's biggest tech firms, visited their HQs and has appeared on live TV and radio, including Sky News, BBC News, BBC World News, Al Jazeera, LBC and BBC Radio 4. Originally specializing in phones, tablets and wearables, John is now TechRadar's resident automotive expert, reviewing the latest and greatest EVs and PHEVs on the market. John also looks after the day-to-day running of the site.