The London Underground just got a big upgrade for customers of O2 and Virgin Mobile (along with other O2 MVNOs), because Virgin Media O2 has switched on 5G in a selection of tunnels.
Customers can now access 5G and 4G in the tunnels between Queensway and Holland Park on the Central Line, and between Kentish Town and Archway on the Northern Line. And it’s not just the tunnels that have had an upgrade, as Notting Hill station has been upgraded to become a full 5G station, with 5G available on its Central Line platforms and in ticket halls.
Archway and Tufnell Park stations also have 5G, but Kentish Town, Queensway, and Holland Park stations are currently limited to 4G.
This however is just the start of a larger project to bring full mobile connectivity to the London Underground, in partnership with Transport for London (TfL), and BAI Communications. So you can expect 4G and 5G coverage in many more parts of the Underground in the coming weeks and months.
By the end of 2024, O2 aims to offer 4G across the entire Tube network, with many parts of it also offering 5G coverage, though that will be limited by BAI’s infrastructure, which won’t currently support 5G in all parts of the Underground.
And O2 customers can already use 4G on the Jubilee Line between Canning Town and Westminster stations, thanks to an infrastructure roll out that happened in 2020.
Gareth Turpin, Chief Commercial Officer at Virgin Media O2, said: “For the first time, our customers can access the latest 5G mobile services deep under London. This is set to revolutionise commuting in the capital, and in the weeks and months ahead we’ll be rolling out ultrafast mobile services at more Tube stations, in tunnels and on platforms to bring high-speed connectivity to our customers as they travel on the Underground. This is part of our commitment to upgrading the UK and ensuring customers can access our network wherever they are.”
5G on every network
It's worth noting though that O2 and Virgin Mobile aren’t alone in bringing 5G services to the London Underground. In fact, they’re a bit behind, as Three, EE and Vodafone all already offer 5G coverage in parts of the Underground.
All of these networks are partnered with TfL and BAI Communications for this, and they’re all using the same BAI Communications infrastructure to power their 5G services on the Underground, so it’s likely that they’ll all ultimately offer 5G in the same places.
Given that the goal is to provide Underground-wide mobile connectivity by the end of 2024, we’d expect 4G and 5G coverage on the Underground to increase at a rapid rate, as that’s less than two years away.