Last week, Transport for London (TfL) announced that the team at BAI Communications had been successful in our tender to deliver high-speed mobile coverage across London’s tube network, introducing uninterrupted 4G mobile coverage to ticket halls, platforms and tunnels on the London Underground network for the first time.

It is an exciting moment – not just for us – but for the capital as a whole. We will be TfL’s telecommunications commercialisation partner for the next 20 years – a commitment which means we will be designing, building, operating, maintaining, innovating, and funding the most advanced communications network of its kind anywhere in the world.

We will create one network that will allow all UK mobile operators to provide 4G coverage to their customers. tackling what’s been described as the largest not spots in Europe – the London Underground. The 4G-enabled and 5G-ready communications network that BAI will build and operate as a neutral host for fixed and mobile operators will fast-track London’s evolution as a smart city.

With our world-class team of engineering experts and technology innovators, 600 people will be working together at any one time to deliver the most advanced fibre network of its type in the world in this underground transport system. We will establish a backbone of connectivity across London, with a new high-capacity fibre network, building nine data centres across London. Using TfL’s vast streetscape – its lampposts, traffic lights, front of stations, bus shelters – we will leverage the power of 5G and IoT to unlock smart city opportunities for businesses and deliver improvements in areas like traffic congestion, public safety and city planning.

It couldn’t come at a more important time. The global pandemic has taught us that how and where people work from has changed forever. It has also shown us the importance of mobility and connectedness as people look to make the most of their time, wherever they are. Once the network is live, whether you want to make a restaurant reservation or access social media while you travel, the continuous and reliable connection will be as if you were sitting at home.

And our long-term commitment is important for London’s competitiveness and recovery too, not only to transform the city’s economy but to also provide social benefits over the next two decades. Every network we build is better than the last and it is London’s time to be at forefront. To do it, we don’t need to be digging up roads, as our design means that we will mainly use the underground tunnels, which is a huge advantage for London’s residents, commuters and visitors.

It is London’s time. The TfL network is a 19th century one, but it’s going to get a 21st century communications platform at the very moment that demand for connectivity is becoming greater. I believe passionately that London can achieve the ambition of being a smarter and safer place to work, live, and visit, and I’m excited that our build will be at the forefront of make this a reality.