Plans to install mobile access on the Tube in time for the London 2012 Olympics have broken down after Transport for London (TfL), operators and communications contractor Thales failed to reach an agreement. A deal needed to be cut by 4 April if the mobile network was to be installed in time to meet the 2012 London Olympics deadline.
Sources close to the deal told Mobile earlier this week that the parties were ‘still in negotiations’. However, an operator source said yesterday: ‘The figure the operators thought it was worth wasn’t what they wanted.
‘The deal isn’t going to happen because we have run out of time to get a service up and running before the Olympics. It has been complicated by the sheer complexity of putting mobile services into stations, many of which go back to the Victorian era.’
Sources said that some of the preliminary work had already been done, paid for by mobile companies and costing several millions of pounds.
A source added: ‘From the operators’ perspective this wasn’t about making money. It also wasn’t about security issues. It’s a very complicated project and the negotiations for a mobile network on the tube before the Olympics have fallen.’
A joint statement from Vodafone, O2, Everything Everywhere and Three, said: 'We have been working closely with infrastructure partners and London Underground for some time with the hope of delivering mobile services to the London Underground, and are disappointed that it will not be possible to deliver such services in time for next year’s Olympic games.
'As a group, we will continue to positively explore all other avenues available to us in order to provide a service at a later date.'
It is understood that operator chief technical officers had previously been working together successfully on the deal.
Meanwhile, Huawei, which had reportedly offered London £50m of funding, was testing its kit on the network. Thales was appointed to run the managed service part of the deal. Meanwhile, London Underground has also put out a tender to put Wi-Fi on the Tube network.