The Tube tenders for near-total Wi-Fi coverage

Tube journeys look set to become significantly more connected, with the London Underground planning to get around 120 stations equipped with Wi-Fi access by June 2012.

The company has announced the opening of the tendering process for the upgrade, which will see companies competing to land a contract to fit Wi-Fi access points to up to 120 stations throughout the rail network ahead of the opening of the Olympic Games next year.

The plans follow the successful trial of a BT Openzone-powered network at the Charing Cross station which started in November 2010, which the company claims received positive reactions from over half of passengers canvassed - with the remainder presumably seething with rage over their only quiet time of the day being interrupted with people typing and chatting on VoIP handsets.

Initially, the network will be expanded to an additional sixteen stations that already have Wi-Fi equipment in place but that are restricted for staff use only. These will be opened up for public use, and then additional equipment fitted throughout the network in order to provide coverage in as many stations as possible.

"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," announced London Mayor Boris Johnson.

"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," he added, in a flagrant attempt to drum up some patriotism for the project.

While stations and platforms will be getting coverage, the tender document explicitly excludes the addition of Wi-Fi coverage to the trains themselves - which will likely come as a relief to harassed commuters.