London Underground has selected Virgin Media to offer free Wi-Fi in 80 tube stations in time for the summer’s Olympic Games.
The service will be available throughout the stations and on the platforms. Users will only lose connectivity when going through the tunnels, but will automatically reconnect as the tube pulls into the platform.
A Virgin Media spokesperson confirmed that the service will connect to the company’s fibre backhaul and will use the latest 802.11n Wi-Fi standard, meaning that passengers can expect to experience speeds comparable to those on a 4G network.
Following the Olympic and Paralympic Games full internet access via Wi-Fi will be chargeable on a pay-as-you-go basis; however users will still be able to connect and view live Transport for London (TfL) travel information.
Virgin Media plans to increase the number of stations that the service is available in up to 120 by the end of 2012.
Research carried out at Charing Cross suggested that over half of underground passengers believe Wi-Fi would make using the Underground a better experience.
“We’re upgrading the Tube to make it fit for the 21st Century. This latest innovation is great news for Tube customers, who now have access to emails, web and social media underground for the first time. It’s also delivered at no cost to fare payers and taxpayers,” said Gareth Powell, London Underground’s director of strategy and service development.
“Wi-Fi on the Tube means our customers can now get the latest live travel information and check how services are running, on the move and underground, where and when they need it”.
When using the Wi-Fi for the first time passengers will have to register their details and then use a login and password at the start of each journey to connect to the service.
Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, also pledged his support for the rollout.
“Millions of passengers will now be able to connect to their work, friends or access the latest news and travel information whilst on the move,” said the Mayor.
“This is a fabulous new and free resource which will be in place from this summer when London is being showcased on a global stage and playing host to millions”.