4/1/2011 12:34:00 PM
A mobile network too far
Many Londoners would argue that the Tube is crowded and noisy enough already without the added horror of people being able to bellow into their phones as well.
But Mayor Boris Johnson thinks it’s a jolly good thing and it would be a good wheeze if all the foreign tourists coming to see the 2012 Olympics could get the ‘benefit’ of shouting into their phones too… providing the taxpayer doesn’t have to pay for it, of course.
Boris seems to be getting his way too. The UK networks have reluctantly or not - mystery surrounds this point - agreed to cough up a lot of the necessary dibs to pay for the installation of a cellular network on the Tube. Huawei has offered £50m worth of equipment, which looks like it has been gratefully received, although there are reports to the contrary, especially on Chinese websites.
All well and good it would seem… but no… negotiations are still dragging on, and Mobile understands a deadline of 4 April has been set for a deal to be struck. If they can’t agree a deal, then the deadline for delivering the mobile network in time for the 2012 Olympics may be missed. A blessing for some perhaps.
Fingers are pointing at Thales, the communications managed service provider, and Transport for London (TfL) itself as the sticking points. The word is that Thales can’t see what’s in it for them, so why should they bother to be agreeable?
TfL is another case in point though. It is struggling to get the Tube upgrades ready in time for the Olympics while being hampered by a lack of funds. Given the severe difficulties of trying to upgrade a live underground network, you have to wonder how pleased they are at Boris dropping another project on top of them at the same time.
Might TfL be indulging in a spot of heel dragging, or is it just trying to impose a sense of reality on the whole episode? Let’s see if they do manage to hammer out a deal next week. Whether the general public want it or not is another matter. Still, even if they can’t hear themselves speak, they can always play Angry Birds on their smartphones.