Chinese firm offers free mobile coverage on the Tube

Written by Antony Leather

February 21, 2011 // 2:43 p.m.

Tags: #3g #cellular-network #london #phone-coverage #tube #underground

A Chinese telecom provider called Huawei has reportedly offered to provide mobile coverage to London Underground for free.

According to Yahoo News, Huawei has already been in talks with UK Mobile operators, including Vodafone and O2, who have agreed to pay for the installation work, while Huawei hopes to earn income from maintenance fees.

Transmitters would be installed along the lengths of tunnels, enabling travellers to make calls from locations where there is currently no mobile coverage. However, some commentators have questioned the security and ethics of employing a Chinese firm to undertake such a task.

Conservative MP Patrick Mercer has apparently told the Sunday Times: 'It has been proven that a proportion of the cyberattacks on this country come from China. I wonder when the eyes of the world are upon us whether there is sense in using a Chinese firm to install a sensitive mobile network.'

As if the prospect of sitting next to a phone-obsessed chatterbox on a passenger flight wasn't bad enough, the government's ambition to provide cellular network coverage to the Tube (London's underground train network) by the time of the 2012 Olympics looks like it might just be possible.

National security aside, we suspect plenty of people will be dreading the day the network is enabled, as the Tube currently offers a relatively peaceful commute. Let us know your thoughts in the forum.

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