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London Underground Mobile Network Project : Delayed Indefinitely?

The lack of mobile phone coverage for Tube Travellers must be one of the more frustrating aspects of a journey on the tube with the hell-like heat, smelly passengers and jam-packed passenger carts being not far behind.

This is particularly true given that nearly all major cities worldwide like New York, Tokyo, Paris or Barcelona have underground public transport where passengers can make and receive calls as well as doing all the casual things that you'd expect an everyday web user to perform.

Transport for London and the London Mayor Boris Johnson had backed the idea but only if it happened without any financial penalty for the user.

The carefully worded statement from the four operators behind the projects, which was also backed by Chinese infrastructure provider Huawei, did not say that they had given up on the hope to deliver mobile calls to London Underground passengers.

Instead, it mentions mobile services as well as the impossibility to "deliver such services in time for next year’s Olympic games" which doesn't preclude that happening later, either when networks will be ready to foot the bill or when the more efficient technology will be rolled out.

Still, 120 tube stations across the country will get a Wi-Fi spot by June 2012 courtesy of BT Openzone although this will be limited to platforms and public areas which means that Skype calls and any VoIP solution will work.

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at ITProPortal.com where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.