Does wi-fi on the Tube get your vote?
It's been revealed that commuters will be able to get wi-fi at 120 stations by next June.
What's not yet clear - and won't be for some time - is who will be able to use it for free.
At the moment, a trial at Charing Cross is being run by BT Openzone. It allow those with phones from 02 Tesco Mobile, Orange, Vodafone and other devices with "wi-fi minutes in their contract" to access the broadband.
The service is also free for five million BT broadband customers with unlimited BT Wi-Fi minutes and for BT Openzone customers.
Others have to buy vouchers on the site to use the wi-fi.
The research from Charing Cross Tube station found "that over half of London Underground customers surveyed felt that access to wi-fi would make their experience of using the Tube better".
Obviously meaning just under half thought it wouldn't improve their experience. So it meets the Mayor's 50% "strike mandate rule" - just.
The contract will be put out for tender shortly with the supplier paying Transport for London for the privilege of supplying the wi-fi. TfL will want a good deal financially.
TfL has told me that it will stipulate in any contract that there will be some free access to all users - probably to its websites. So you will be able to find out travel updates.
Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, said:
"The roll out of wi-fi technology across the platforms and public areas of our Tube stations will finally allow Londoners to use mobile devices to pick up their emails, access social media sites and stay in touch with the world above while they traverse our subterranean transport network.
"We are inviting companies to bid to do this before next June, which would mean that even Londoners going underground will be able to keep up to date with the British medal tally at the 2012 Games."
Some experts I've been talking to say wi-fi is by far the easier option than installing mobile phone networks on the Tube. It's also cheaper and less disruptive.
Labour on the London Assembly also say that by giving wi-fi the go ahead while at the same time talking to mobile companies about installing mobile phone equipment it shows confusion in the Mayor's Office about communication on the Tube.
No doubt that would be dismissed by the Mayor.
So could wi-fi be the 3rd way of underground communication? Is this a compromise that'll fly? Actually is it preferable to mobile phone coverage on the Tube??
As ever let me know what you think ...
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