Mobile Phones: Going Underground

By: Liam G

If you regularly make use of underground train services, or 'the tube', then chances are you've noticed the complete lack of mobile network coverage.

From a technological point of view this is fully understandable, as the networks that provide us with mobile phone coverage weren't designed to reach underground. However, when combined with other technologies, underground coverage is possible.

The technology in question is wi-fi, which is cable of transmitting data, wireless over very lengthy distances. The required cellular network for mobile phone coverage can be transmitted over wi-fi networks, allowing essentially unlimited coverage.

Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT), the public body which is responsible for planning and co-ordinating regional and public transport within the Strathclyde area of western Scotland has recently taken steps to incorporate such technologies into 15 subway stations within the area.

With SPT's help, Glasgow will be the first major city within the UK to provide its subway customers with 2G and 3G network coverage.

The implementation of the network will begin later this month. When complete, customers will be able to use their phones at underground stations, just as they would above ground, accessing the interest, sending texts and making calls will all be possible.

Arqive, one of the two main broadcasting companies in the UK, and the ones that have helped make the underground network possible feel that many more cities would benefit from similar networks.

Amidst concerns over passenger safety, similar plans are being made to incorporate the same technology into the London underground subway. Trails for which are suspected to begin later this year.

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