O2 the the mobile phone operator in the UK is to offer commuters of the Glasgow Underground train service the ability to use mobile phones whilst underground. The service is due to be live in December 2008.
The Glasgow Underground operates with distinct orange trains and is known as the Clockwork Orange or The Shooglie. The subway runs around 6.5 miles (10.4 Km) in the city centre. There are fifteen stations on a circular route with inner and outer tracks allowing inbound and outbound train services to run in opposite directions.
The new mobile service will be the first British true underground phone network and will use a multi-user distribution antenna system in five of Glasgow’s busiest stations. O2 has signed a deal with Arqiva, a transmission company, and the Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT), to jointly produce the communication solution for mobile use on trains underground.
The UK is behind in many respects, compared to other parts of the world, such as many countries in mainland Europe and naturally, technology savvy countries like Japan in Asia, where mobile communications are available extensively. So, this move is long overdue.
Initially, the coverage will be available on the platforms and concourses with the view to extend the service in tunnels. Both 2G and 3G services will be operational. Giving commuters the ability to make voice calls, send texts and use video streaming on their handsets.
Newcastle in the north of England, has operated an underground mobile services for years but the train network is partly over ground which aids the solution in place.
The assistant chief executive of SPT, Gordon Maclennan, said “It’s a first for Glasgow and it opens the door for wider WiFi coverage in the Underground in future. Accessibility and connectivity are key parts of our continuous subway modernisation programme.”
With this development, O2 are also in dialogue to produce a solution for the south of the UK, especially for the London Underground. Where such a service would be more than welcomed due to huge amount of commuters in London and their needs for mobile communication whilst being on the tube.