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BT datacentres to power London Underground’s new mobile connectivity

underground

Telecoms group BT has signed a multi-million pound contract to deliver data centre facilities to infrastructure firm BAI Communications, which is masterminding the plan to get 4G on the underground.

BT will provide BAI, which has a 20-year concession with TfL to deliver to deliver mobile connectivity, with data centre facilities based in London. All UK mobile operators will be able to co-locate their equipment within these data centres, with BT manging them as a ‘neutral party’.

It follows the news that multiple UK operators have joined the ‘neutral host’ network which will be able to provide 45 and 5G connectivity on the London Underground.

“Today’s deal is further evidence of BT’s commitment to boost the capital’s digital infrastructure – helping London maintain its status as a great place to live, work, and do business,” said Alex Tempest, Managing Director for BT Wholesale. “We’re busy doing that through the expansion of the Openreach fibre and EE mobile networks, together with our leading wholesale capabilities. We’re really proud to be playing a key role in enabling the delivery of this critical digital infrastructure project for BAI and look forward to our relationship building further from here.”

Billy D’Arcy, CEO of BAI Communications UK added: “This deal marks a significant step in our progress towards delivering high-speed mobile coverage across the London Underground network, with BT’s data centres playing an essential role in helping London leapfrog other major cities in terms of connectivity. BT Wholesale’s services will support our neutral host infrastructure in transforming the experience of customers with all UK mobile operators, providing seamless, 5G-ready coverage that will allow passengers to move around the capital more smartly, safely, and securely.”

Since taking the contract from TfL in June, BAI has begun work on building out infrastructure at Oxford Circus, Tottenham Court Road, Bank, Euston and Camden Town. All stations and tunnels across the Tube network are due to have 4G coverage by the end of 2024.

In December 2021 it was announced UK Operators Three and EE would work with BAI to pipe in 4G and later 5G to commuters on the tube, and after our coverage of the story Vodafone got in touch with us to say it is also in negations with to join the gang, and expects that to be confirmed in the next month.

It’s all positive stuff and anyone who spends a lot of time on the tube (which isn’t many people at the moment but we do seem to be witnessing the end of restrictions in the UK) will surely be grateful of an uninterrupted connection. But as we said at the time of the first announcement, it does all seem a bit late in the day to call getting signal on the underground cutting edge, considering the ubiquity everywhere else.


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