BT Open Zone trial mobile broadband by WiFi at Charing Cross
Today sees the start of a live trial of the feasibility of delivering mobile broadband over wifi on the London Underground. Transport for London, in partnership with BT, have started a trial of the service at Charing Cross station with users able to access the hotspot on the platforms of both the Bakerloo and Northern Lines in a move which, if successful, could see the access extended throughout the tube network, presumably including within the tunnels themselves.
The trial has been set up as a BT Open Zone hotspot which is great news for London based mobile broadband customers of O2, Vodafone and Orange who include free access to BT WiFi hotspots in their best mobile broadband deals. For other users you can still access the hotspots but will need to pay for access via a voucher, as with other Open Zone hotspots. If extended this move could see a real advantage for mobile broadband providers including WiFi in their tariffs and could potentially really shake up the market as their is currently no other way to access phone or internet services underground.
The trial will run for six months and will benefit the 68,000 passengers who use Charing Cross station every day. The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has committed to making mobile communications available on the tube, preferably in time for the 2012 Olympics and this move looks like it may be one of the most cost effective ways of doing that.