Here in London there’s been a big push to try and get WiFi available in the Tube. London Mayor, Boris Johnson, and Transport For London have been linked with an earlier deal with Huawei. Unfortunately this didn’t see the light of day.. or should that be the dark of the tube.
Now, shortly after Eurotunnel announced a 3G signal for mobile users travelling through the Channel Tunnel, Virgin Media have won the contract to provide WiFi on the London Underground.
But wait – you won’t see travellers trying to text and call whilst your face is rammed into their armpit just yet. Ticket offices, escalators and platforms will be bathed in completely free WiFi during the Olympiic and Paralympic Games. After that it’ll become a Pay-To-Use service, but if you’ve got a Virgin Media mobile or broadband connection then you get it bundled in.
Staff from London Underground will fit the WiFi kit and it’ll cover 80 stations initially with 120 stations later in the year.
The WiFi will also mean that TFL staff can provide up-to-date travel information to travelers.
Link – Virgin Media Press Release
Mayor announces digital first as Virgin Media selected to offer Wi-Fi on Tube stations
Free Wi-Fi service for millions of commuters and visitors from summer 2012
The Mayor today confirmed that Londoners will be able to use Wi-Fi to access mobile internet services at Tube stations for the first time from this summer. A contract has been awarded to Virgin Media to provide public access Wi-Fi at up to 120 Tube station platforms at zero cost to the fare or taxpayer.
The new Wi-Fi service will launch as a free, unlimited service for all Tube passengers from summer 2012 and will continue to offer free live TfL travel information via a new online portal after this period.
Virgin Media, in partnership with London Underground, will introduce Wi-Fi at over 80 stations ahead of the summer. By the end of 2012, up to 120 Tube stations, many of them deep-level, will be connected.
From July 2012, all Tube passengers will be able to connect to the internet at stations for free, enabling millions of commuters and visitors to access websites and online destinations and stay up-to-date with news and events listings, review the best spots for lunch and discover great London attractions from their mobile phones, tablets, laptops and other connected devices. Following this period, Wi-Fi at Tube stations will be made available as part of Virgin Media’s broadband and mobile subscriptions and all Tube passengers will be able to stay up-to-date with travel information thanks to the free online portal. Full Internet access via Wi-Fi will become available via Pay-As-You-Go and other commercial models.
London’s digital and hi-tech sector is expected to account for a third of capital’s growth over the next two decades with London already home to more ICT and software companies than any other European city. The Mayor today welcomed the announcement by US-based Yammer Inc, provider of enterprise social networks, that it has chosen London over New York as the location for its first developer centre outside the States, reflecting the fact that almost 40 per cent of their global user-base is in Europe.
The capital’s fledgling digital firms also got a boost today, with the announcement that White Horse Capital have secured backing for a £35m Accelerator Fund help digital start-ups in London over the next five years. This money will support the work already going on at their Accelerator Academy, supported by the Mayor, to train, mentor and provide investment for innovative start-ups and early stage tech firms.
Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, said: “It’s vital that we harness the massive opportunities stemming from the digital revolution, by creating a vibrant, world class industry to attract investment and create jobs for Londoners. 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. 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.”
Gareth Powell, LU’s Director of Strategy and Service Development, said: “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.
“Today, TfL provides a wealth of free live travel information, via our website and through the many excellent travel apps now available. 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.”
Neil Berkett, CEO, Virgin Media, said: “With the eyes of the world on London this summer, we’ll be showing off our capital as a leading connected city on the global stage. We’re putting the power of Virgin Media’s fibre optic network in the hands of millions of Londoners, commuters and visitors and are delighted to be launching Wi-Fi for free throughout summer 2012 and beyond. We’ll help people make the most of the city and will continue to evolve the service, ensuring everyone can benefit from a service London will be proud of.”
Ian Merricks, Accelerator Academy Co-founder and White Horse Capital Managing Partner said: “We entered the early stage entrepreneurial ecosystem last year, creating the Accelerator Academy for emerging entrepreneurs. WE saw the growth potential of London’s tech entrepreneurs and working with investors we now hope to deploy £35m to help these firms grow.”