Major Data Centre Deal Signed to Support Tube Connectivity Roll Out(28 Jan 2022, BWCS Staff)
BAI Communications has signed a multi-million pound data centre deal with BT. The move marks a major step forward for its project to provide 4G and 5G mobile coverage across the entire London Underground by the end of 2024.
BAI has a 20 year concession from TfL to provide a neutral host system offering connectivity throughout the Tube tunnels, as well as across all stations.
Last year, EE and Three became the first two UK mobile operators to sign up to partner with BAI to offer passengers the chance to use their phones whilst underground in the capital. It is expected that Vodafone and O2 will soon follow suit.
The new deal with BT Wholesale will provide premium data centre space and high-bandwidth connectivity. BAI stressed that all UK mobile operators will be able to co-locate their equipment within the data centres. BT will operate them and manage them as a neutral party.
Last summer, BAI Communications won the much-anticipated contract to provide mobile coverage across the entire London Underground Transport system and it is moving forward with plans to install fibre links and wireless. Until now the Tube tunnels have stubbornly remained some of the highest-profile mobile ‘not-spots’ in the UK.
A trial system of 4G mobile coverage was introduced on the eastern half of the Jubilee line in March 2020. This is now being expanded in phases to cover ticket halls, platforms and tunnels on the Tube network, with all stations and tunnels due to have mobile coverage by the end of 2024.
The Tube tunnels will also be used to provide full fibre connectivity across London, which can then be connected to buildings and street assets such as street lighting and bus stops. According to BAI, this will help to further increase mobile coverage through small mobile transmitters, as well as leveraging 5G to deliver city-wide improvements.
The Tube is one of the world’s largest underground networks and prior to the pandemic was used by more than five million passengers a day. Once fully delivered, more than 2,000kms of cabling are expected to be installed within tunnels and stations, all of which will be fitted outside of operational hours. In addition to benefiting customers, providing 4G on the network will generate additional revenue for TfL across the 20-year length of the concession, as well as helping operational teams by providing better connectivity while underground.
Track-side connectivity and on-board WiFi provision will be the main subjects of this year’s Traincomms Conference.
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