back to article TfL cans mobiles on the tube plan

Transport for London has given up on plans to get mobile phones working underground. TfL said the technology was available but it was unable to get anyone interested enough to pay to get the kit installed underground. We're betting the real reason is that it is so damned noisy on most parts of the Underground that you wouldn't …

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Paris Hilton

Oops... sub heading has displayed f word!

It's a welcome sight to see the '*' replaced by the actual letter 'u'

Well funny ;-)

Paris because she knows the word in question better than most!

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Quite

Thank f*ck for that indeed. How are we supposed to listen to the tinny output from tinitus-seeking iPod users' grey and white headphones if other people are shouting "I'm on the tube" into their handsets?

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Silver badge

Not a shock...

Come on, who's going to pay for all the trial installation for it to only be available on the shortest tube line on the network... Waterloo and City only has two stations FFS!

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Happy

There's always the bus...

... if you can't bear to be without your mobile for more than a few minutes, and there's the added bonus of it being almost certain that you'll be subjected to one end of somebody else's pointless conversation too!

Not only does the tube provide a brief respite from the constant threat of having somebody pester you, but it also forms the perfect excuse if you want to switch off for a while -- "oh, you've been trying to ring me for the past three hours? Sorry, I was stuck on the Piccadilly Line, you know what it's like... zzzzzzzz"

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Silver badge

Not so bad

At least there's a bit of calm until the dreaded spring awakening of mobes when the tube gets in to daylight.

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Awww

I wouldn't want to talk, but to send SMS, email or other internet features such as google maps would have been useful. I bet it will come one day as smart mobiles become defacto and the technology becomes cheaper.

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Gold badge
Thumb Up

To be fair

What is Mobile phone access like in other capital cities of the world? Paris, Berlin, Washington DC (and New York due to Wall St.), Tokyo, Moscow?

Newcastle & Warsaw have full access. Designed in from day one or retro-fitted? Across all stations and in between?

Do they have stations dating from 1863 across c400Km of track?

Personally, SFW?

However those globe-trotting business types with corporate billed tri-bands & 3g may (unconsciously) mark us down. They don't have trouble downloading their pr0n in other cities, so Mr Yamaguchi wonders why he can't down load Naked Cheerleader Lust III here as well.

Common sense says with so many people travelling on it and such high phone ownership there *must* be a market out there.

I'm guessing No of stations * age of stations* capacity needed = startup subsidy needed -> Fail

I'd say this is a case of the free market working correctly for a change.

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Alert

Duh

"London Underground tendered for a trial of mobile phones on the Waterloo and City line"

Is it any wonder no one wanted to touch it with a bargepole? A line with one stop where the maximum journey is about 3 minutes.

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High costs?

"the unique nature and environment of the Tube mean that project costs would be prohibitively high at this time."

Hmm.... TfL wouldn't lie to us, would they?

Let's take Stockholm as an example here. It has a significant tube network, and has had excellent voice and 3G connection down there for years, courtesy of Ericsson I believe. They needed a whopping two cables to achieve this - the cables run alongside the track and act as a kind of very long antenna (or so I've been told). As the article points out, several other cities boast phone access underground too. So: "unique nature and environment"? Thought not. And with copper prices on a low, I doubt those two cables will cost them a fortune.

Perhaps TfL and the operators have decided they just can't be bothered?

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Pirate

No chance, though...

That they'll stop gangs of imbeciles intent on dominating the space using mobiles as mobile sound-systems on the tube.

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Coat

Noisy fecking tube journeys

Too noisy to talk and too bumpy to text.

Mine's the one with the category 2 earplugs in the pocket - tis the only way I can ride the northern and circle lines without getting tinnitus.

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Yes!

I really enjoy my tube journey without those around me wittering on their mobile phones (admittedly I'm lucky enough to avoid the rush hours so I can also get a seat). Compared to when I took the train into London from Oxford, the lack of mobile phone reception on the truly underground parts of the tube is a godsend. On the train I once had to endure a matronly woman yelling down her phone at some hapless flunky about the quality of her breakfast that morning. This went on for about half an hour - until an immaculately besuited older gent did what no one else had the balls to, and said "Madam, will you kindly shut the fuck up".

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Anonymous Coward

Shame...

Yes, there'll always be some idiots who abuse the privilege, but phone could be useful on the underground (not least when I ended up on the wrong train the other day - a quick phone call to my mate [ a londoner] could have pointed out that switching to the Victoria line was much faster from where I was than taking the northern line all the way back up and saved me missing my train!)

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Flame

@Shame

"Yes, there'll always be some idiots who abuse the privilege, but phone could be useful on the underground (not least when I ended up on the wrong train the other day - a quick phone call to my mate [ a londoner] could have pointed out that switching to the Victoria line was much faster from where I was than taking the northern line all the way back up and saved me missing my train!)"

Bad luck to have got on the one tube train in London that doesn't have maps every three feet.

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It would be nice

to be able to browse the web whilst on the tube, but probably not worth any massive investment.

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What's the problem?

I've never understood why people have a problem with mobiles on trains, busses etc. As far as I know, no-one's yet proposed banning normal conversations or mumbling nutters, so what's the problem - the fact that someone's talking or just that you can't hear the other end? Maybe if putting calls on speaker was mandatory.... :)

Seriously, there's full coverage in many places, and given the general level of conversation noise I don't think it makes the slightest difference.

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Anonymous Coward

@John Smith

In Chicago part of the "subway" system is called the "El" or the Elevated Trains, and those run on stilts above ground, above the street level. Those have good coverage. The other half of the subway system is below ground and does not have any cellular coverage.

There public transportation is a gimmick, in that it is faster, infinitely more convenient, and oftentimes cheaper to just drive. Yes it counts as public transport, but as it is a spoke-only system it is only worthwhile if where you are going is within a block of two of a station. Transfers between the suburban rail, the "subway" system, and buses is just about non-existent (they're run by two or three different agencies.) Trying to get anywhere usually ends up being a planes/trains/automobiles type excursion that may take you hours to arrive at your destination.

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Bronze badge

They've been talking about this since 1995

It's uneconomic because the working practices on the tube mean it costs more than ten times as much to do anything. TfL should fix this problem, it's crippling the service.

Not having coverage underground is dangerous and promotes people driving. It also misses a major opportunity to generate revenue.

Simon

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Anonymous Coward

Thought for the day

"and there's the added bonus of it being almost certain that you'll be subjected to one end of somebody else's pointless conversation too!"

If it takes two to have a conversation, why is the idiot who's sat next to me on with their mobile ALWAYS BLOODY TALKING?

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Boris Effect

This decision has more likely been caused by Boris Johnson's putting his foot on the neck of TfL's uncontrolled spending.

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Anonymous Coward

Doesn't stop the compulsives

Regardless of signal, there always seems to be a high proportion of obsessive retards who spend their journey drafting those all-important texts from the minute they get on, presumably to send when they get above ground. I wonder what is so bloody urgent it just can't wait?

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Anonymous Coward

@Robert Long

Train I was on only had maps of the northern line. Would not be bovious to me that switching to the Victoria line would be easier just because my current station and end station are both listed as having victoria stations!

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Anonymous Coward

Simply not true ....

This is simply not true. In 1996 London underground received proposals from two operators to fit cellular coverage at approximately 50 stations at no cost. These were the high usage stations within the Circle/District line 'bottle' with the exceptions of a few stations with particularly low traffic levels. The offer included a modest revenue share but was never accepted as LuL at the time demanded 100% coverage and pretty much all of the revenue.

Since then there have been numerous 'trials' all of which showed how easily it could be achieved to the platform edge with only a small number of base stations. On the train was never practical given the noise and the shielding effect of the carriages themselves.

The stumbling block was always the same - the LuL insistence that it would receive the majority of the revenues for calls made while on its premises. It has never been a technical issue - purely greed on the part of TfL these days.

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Gold badge
Boffin

AC@02:28, AC@11:04

"Transfers between the suburban rail, the "subway" system, and buses is just about non-existent"

Yes we've been working to build that sort of dysfunctional infrastructure here for some time. We call it transport de-regulation. We now have multiple bus companies competing on high load roads, nothing in between and massive congestion in the city centre as they all converge.

This was courtesy of a former Tory advisor who said he wanted to see a bus service like they have in Chile, where each bus driver owns his bus, like a taxi cab. He did not use them himself of course.

"at the time demanded 100% coverage and pretty much all of the revenue."

This is where those 400Km of track start to cause trouble.

"it could be achieved to the platform edge with only a small number of base stations."

I would have guessed one base station per station, if you could run remote aerials around some of the bigger stations.

"On the train was never practical given the noise and the shielding effect of the carriages themselves."

I'm a bit surprised at this. The idea of "Leaky" coaxial cable running in tunnels was reported on since the mid 1970s at least (Wireless World 1976 IIRC) and modern mobiles have noise cancelling microphones. Is the EM sealing inside carriages that good? Do the drive motors put out that much EMI?

"the LuL insistence that it would receive the majority of the revenues for calls made while on its premises"

LuL showing quite astonishing negotiating skills.

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Anonymous Coward

Tfl - good negotiators - not likely

Yeah, really great negotiation skills which have achieved nothing in 12 years. Even a halfwit realises when its its not getting anywhere. OTOH, if you don't want cellular coverage it is a good tactic but lets be clear - this is incompetence, not a desire to fail deliberately. As taxpayers, their incompetence in increasing their third party income sources should result in some sanctions as its costing us all money from the taxation purse.

And yes, the new windows on the new rolling stock has metallised film on it and none of the trains were ever built with a suitable EMI profile in place - particularly in deep tube sections where they is no room for even a stub antenna to collect for an internal peta-cell. Leaky feeder is used extensively all over London Underground public areas - unfortunately most of it doesn't carry 1800MHz (most of Orange and T-Mobile services) and the repeaters don't cover those ranges.

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