TfL puts underground mobile phone plans on hold

Plans to make mobile phone use possible on the Tube have been put on hold with cost and unsuitable proposals taking the blame.

Transport for London (TfL) has announced that it is freezing plans to offer mobile phone services on the underground.

"London Underground tendered for a trial of mobile phones on the Waterloo and City line, but the market has yet to provide us with a credible proposal for enabling mobile phone use on the Tube," said a TfL spokesperson.

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The initial search for supplier proposals began in March 2005 when Ken Livingstone, then Mayor, asked suppliers to pitch suggestions that would provide mobile phone coverage, as well as the possibilities of other technologies such as wifi, DAB radio and DVB digital video broadcasting for the transport network, but in that time none of the proposals were deemed suitable.

O2 already runs a similar programme on the Glasgow underground but, due to the credit crunch, the London version will now be put on hold with no real indications as to when it might be revived, if at all.

The spokesperson continued: "While it is technically possible to deploy mobile phone and data wireless solutions on the deep level Underground tunnels and stations, the unique nature and environment of the Tube mean that project costs would be prohibitively high at this time."

The announcement comes in a week where the Evening Standard reported London's transport network as "approaching bankruptcy" and blamed a 1.4 billion hole in TfL's 5 billion budget on the privatisation of the tube.

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