TFL: Mobiles on Tube 'not commercially viable'

Mobiles on the Underground - still not happening
Mobiles on the Underground - still not happening

Transport for London has stated that serious technological hurdles impeding the use of mobile phones on the Underground mean the recent pledge by the Government is not commercially viable.

The plan laid out in the recent Digital Britain report was to make sure that London's Underground transport system would be fully mobile friendly by the 2012 Olympics, being held in the same city.

The report stated that it expects: "mobile network operators... to provide and fund solutions to take the initiative to improve the broadband mobile access for mobile customers travelling by Tube – including the huge influx of international visitors to the London Olympics.

"If regulatory or other similar constraints turn out to be a barrier the Government is willing to address these."

No solution

However, TechRadar spoke to TfL which re-iterated its stance that technologically and commercially speaking, the scheme simply isn't currently possible unless further financial backing (possibly from the Government):

"We tendered for a trial of mobile phone technology on the Waterloo and City line, but the market has yet to provide a commercially viable solution.

"Naturally if funding was found from external sources we would give consideration to how a system mightbe implemented on the Tube," said a spokesperson for the company.

It seems that these hurdles will be hard to overcome thanks to the infrastructure of the current Underground meaning there is very little space to install the necessary hardware.

Gareth Beavis
Formerly Global Editor in Chief

Gareth has been part of the consumer technology world in a career spanning three decades. He started life as a staff writer on the fledgling TechRadar, and has grown with the site (primarily as phones, tablets and wearables editor) until becoming Global Editor in Chief in 2018. Gareth has written over 4,000 articles for TechRadar, has contributed expert insight to a number of other publications, chaired panels on zeitgeist technologies, presented at the Gadget Show Live as well as representing the brand on TV and radio for multiple channels including Sky, BBC, ITV and Al-Jazeera. Passionate about fitness, he can bore anyone rigid about stress management, sleep tracking, heart rate variance as well as bemoaning something about the latest iPhone, Galaxy or OLED TV.