The oldest subway in the world will have 4G access by the end of 2024.

London’s Tube, the world’s oldest subway system, is officially entering the 21st century: It’s getting an underground 4G network that will cover its platforms, stations, and tunnels.

  • London struck a $1.4 billion, 20-year agreement with BAI Communications, which will lay over 1,242 miles of fiber starting this year.
  • BAI will facilitate access to public and to private providers alike on one network.

The coverage will roll out at London’s busiest stations in 2022, with full coverage available by the end of 2024. London is one of the last major cities without this kind of connectivity.

Late adopter, looking ahead

The network will initially be built for 4G, but it’ll be upgradable to 5G as coverage and demand expand.

“We get an extra G every 7 years in the industry, so we may be at 7G by the time we finish the concession,” Paul Osborne, Chief Commercial Officer for UK & Europe at BAI Communications told Emerging Tech Brew. “We are building it with scalability in mind to be able to make those changes.”

The BAI contract also allocated resources to IoT and smart city development, including the installation of 124 miles of core fiber that will eventually connect street lights, bus stops, and traffic signals.

Big picture: As the city and private providers build this network, Roslyn Layton, senior vice president at Strand Consult, told us the work doesn’t end in building the foundation of a smart city network.

“It isn’t just enough to have the network; you have to have intelligent decisions or intelligent applications,” Layton said.