The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, wants to deploy a "not-spot" team to tackle poor connectivity in the capital, under plans unveiled today which include re-announcing 4G on the underground for 2019.
The squad will be hitting London's most problematic connectivity spots to work with local authorities and identify ways to improve connectivity, Khan said.
"If we are to remain competitive in the global economy, we need to ensure every Londoner is able to access a fast and reliable digital connection. That means working to boost connectivity across London – tackling not-spots, delivering connectivity in the London Underground and working with local authorities to provide digital infrastructure fitting of a global tech hub."
In his letter to the 33 London local authorities, Khan unveiled "a package of measures" to help boost connectivity, including "tackling London's biggest not-spot, the Tube, by delivering 4G mobile connectivity to London Underground, both in station and tunnels from 2019, future-proofed ready for 5G."
However, connecting the underground with 4G has been on the agenda for some time under the Home Office's Emergency Services Network, which intends to shift all blue-light services onto LTE by 2020.
Martin Hoscik, who runs Mayor Watch, tweeted: "Despite his attempts at spin, credit for a 4G connected Tube belongs to Theresa May, not Sadiq Khan."
Stephen Webb, director of Law Enforcement Programmes at the Home Office, confirmed the anticipated time frame for the Tube roll-out last month.
At a Greater London Authority meeting he said: "We are working with TfL as well to get coverage into the stations by the beginning of 2019 and then the tunnels by midway through 2019."
Transport for London has tentatively started testing 4G on the Tube for emergency services. TfL's CTO said he was not "absolutely confident" it would be complete by 2019, however.
Khan said Crossrail will have mobile coverage when it launches through central London in December 2018, "giving continuous phone coverage and access to the Internet, apps and email as trains move through tunnels across the network." ®