People now expect mobile internet access whenever they go out. Many countries now offer free internet to commuters. But London, which is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, still doesn’t have internet access in its world famous subway system. But this may change soon.
London’s mayor Boris Johnson announced that there is now a plan to provide WiFi service in certain parts of London’s subway system. The plan will initially involve 80 of the 276 stations within the system with plans to add 40 more stations by the end of the year. The initial deployment of the WiFi service comes at a perfect time with the 2012 Olympics happening in London this coming July.
The WiFi service will be made available free of charge until after the Olympics, which ends on August 12. After this, the service will adopt a pay-as-you-go scheme. The contract for the WiFi service was awarded to Virgin Media.
But before Londoners rejoice, there is a definite limitation to this WiFi service – the signal is only available on the platforms, escalators and in ticket halls. The signal will not be available inside the trains. The limitation is budget based. The construction costs for bringing WiFi into the trains themselves is just too high to justify bringing internet access into the trains. But the plan is to revisit this idea in the future.
Aside from providing internet access to the subway system, free WiFi will also be made available above ground in certain parts of London. There are claims that this deployment will make it the largest free wireless hub in Europe.