London Mayor continues to gaslight the public over Tube connectivity

Yet another UK infrastructure project is failing to live up to its promises, as the target for connecting the London Underground to mobile networks slips by a year.

Scott Bicheno

May 14, 2024

2 Min Read
source: tfl

While the announcement, titled ‘More stations and Tube lines across Central London get high-speed mobile coverage’, was jointly published with the neutral host provider actually doing the work – Boldyn – it reads like a classic piece of political gaslighting. The substance of it was yet another incremental bit of progress, with a few more stations – Paddington, Whitechapel, Canary Wharf and Woolwich on the Elizabeth line – getting 4G.

As with so many coverage claims, the devil is in the detail. Firstly, all above-ground stations should have had 4G coverage for over a decade. Secondly, station coverage doesn’t count tunnels. In fact it’s not clear what proportion of a station needs to have mobile connectivity for such a claim to be valid. And lastly, why is this incremental progress being publicised at all when there is still such a long way to go?

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has been banging on about this for at least five years and, in 2021, proclaimed that the whole project would be complete by the end of this year. This latest announcement, however, makes several attempts to spin the matter before quietly revealing that ‘The Mayor has committed to completing work across all of the London Underground, Docklands Light Railway, London Overground and the Elizabeth line by the end of 2025.’

“I promised that customers would be able to access high-speed mobile coverage at all stations and in tunnels, and I’m pleased to see how quickly the team are moving to enable 4G and 5G connectivity,” said Khan. “This is just one of the many ways we are supporting Londoners as we build a better, fairer and more prosperous London for everyone.”

While we expect that level of toe-curling spin from all politicians, Khan seems to take special delight in the deception. The announcement reveals that just a quarter of underground Tube stations currently have mobile coverage and says nothing about tunnels. Hilariously, it then says: “when combined with Tube stations which are above ground, means that more than two thirds of all stations on the Tube network now have mobile coverage available.”

Building on that, we’re told 80% of stations will have coverage by the end of this year, so just 13 percentage points more than now. In a recent podcast, Boldyn CEO Igor Leprince mentioned the narrow access window they have in the few hours trains aren’t running, when asked why the rollout was taking so long. We don’t doubt there are unique logistical challenges involved in work like this but surely that should have been factored in when the original rollout promises were made.

Here's Transport for London’s latest underground coverage map and note that the top image, of someone apparently enjoying the benefits of full connectivity in a tube tunnel, was supplied by TfL along with its press release.


About the Author(s)

Scott Bicheno

As the Editorial Director of, Scott oversees all editorial activity on the site and also manages the Intelligence arm, which focuses on analysis and bespoke content.
Scott has been covering the mobile phone and broader technology industries for over ten years. Prior to Scott was the primary smartphone specialist at industry analyst Strategy Analytics’. Before that Scott was a technology journalist, covering the PC and telecoms sectors from a business perspective.
Follow him @scottbicheno

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