LONDON – London’s underground Tube train network has WiFi, but only in the stations. Meanwhile, the likes of Tokyo, Barcelona, Hong Kong and Melbourne, all have WiFi connectivity in tunnels. The Tube will soon be getting 4G, but that does not mean there will be no restrictions. Wired looked into why WiFi is still only in stations, and found multiple reasons, with cost and the shape of the tunnels high-up the list.
London’s failure to connect has multiple causes. First is cost. “Technically, it is straightforward, although expensive, to deliver Wi-Fi in stations,” says Matthew Griffin, head of commercial telecoms at TfL. To install it, individual access points have to be placed within the station ceiling or hidden in voids, with flat antennas providing the signal. While this sounds simple, it’s very expensive to lay cabling to reach all these access points.