back to article Huawei to gift underground coverage to London

Huawei is apparently planning to give away the kit necessary to connect up the London tube, with O2 and Vodafone paying for installation the underground could be covered by the Olympics. The Chinese kit supplier will make money maintaining the systems, and will get a decent foothold in the UK market by supplying the hardware …


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  1. fixit_f

    No contracts have yet been "singed" ?

    I wish they would burn this particular contract - one of the few good things about tube travel is that you haven't got some prick braying into his mobile phone at full volume.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      I'm sorry

      no, you just have the constant "intus intus intus" of the crap leaking out of the iPod.

      (actually, I'm with you, but let's ban ipods too)

      1. Frank Bough


        ...have you ever considered listening to some of your own music rather than complaining about other people's?

    2. Robert E A Harvey

      It is nonsense

      It is nonsense, isn't it?

      The tube is a very noisy environment, and on the train you need both hands to hold on as the carriages lurch from one big of Victorian subsidence to another.

      No message can possibly be that urgent. People need to grow up.

      1. Ed 11

        Tube surfing

        You, my friend, have clearly never enjoyed the joys of tube surfing.

        1. Annihilator

          re: Tube surfing

          A very worthy sport, that should actually be part of the Olympics. Beginners would do well to practice on the Jubilee Line Extension, as some of the smoother rides are there. A step up to some gentle lateral motion on the DLR (no idea why they sway from side to side in a straight line, but you can get your eye in while relying on the computer controlled acceleration) before you're ready to join the big boys on the Circle Line. As the trains jump from track to track, it makes for some exciting competitions that truly separate the men from the boys!

          1. Anonymous Coward

            Oh yes

            As a daily rider of the Circle line, and a daily stander-upper - your post rings very true.

            Good fun watching people on it for the first time who don't even consider the possibility that all the hand-bars are there for a reason - until it's just too late

  2. Adrian Challinor


    Can you hear me, I'm just going through a tunnel....


  3. David 164

    The Chinese got money to throw away,

    Well the Chinese got money to throw around.

    But I swear murder rates on the tube will climb especially during the summer.

    An the temperature will also rise on the tube, with all those hot phones being use.

    An what am I meant to say when the boss trying to phone me, being on the tube was such a handy excuse. An much better than the truth.

  4. alyn

    burnt contracts?

    "No contracts have yet been singed". I should hope not. Health and safety risk.

  5. reluctant geek

    Dreadful news

    This has to be the worst news ever, there is no need whatsoever for there to be mobile phone access down there, its miserable enough down there without having to put up with other peoples inane wittering, I predict trouble ahead.

    Glad I moved out of London.

    1. Frank Bough

      You know what?

      we're glad too.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Call me paranoid, but...

    I'm sure they'll be able to recoup any losses by selling all the data they sniff back to the Chinese government

    1. Anonymous Coward


      I'll be wrapping my mobile in tinfoil on London trips.

    2. TDawg


      Glad I wasn't the only one thinking along those lines...

      Mine is the one without an HTC in the pocket

  7. yeahyeahno
    Thumb Down

    No need for phones on the tube

    Sorry, just don't see the need, I much prefer the tube without idiots shouting down their mobiles.

    1. Elmer Phud


      They are handy for those of us who live past the ends of the tunnels.

      As the train leaves the tunnel, the mobes all get a signal and start chirping, neighing, playing 'Sweet bloody Child of Mine' etc. etc. and wakes up those who managed to nod off.

  8. Andy 97

    Massive error in judgement here.

    When can it ever be so damn important to talk to someone that it can't wait 5 minutes or less and the person involved can get off the underground first.

    .... Bueller.... Bueller.... anyone....?

    1. Len

      Desperately needed with the Tube's dismal state

      How about when you are about to lose your job because you have been stuck in a tunnel for 2 hours, again.

      Nobody will do voice calls anyway, much too noisy, but being able to text and email would be a god send.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Down

        Nobody will do voice calls anyway

        Oh yes they will.

        That's like saying that nobody has a chat in a pub because it's much too noisy.

        They'll shout.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Security risk

    Such a generous gift, and who better than a company so well connected to China's military to put up the kit and handle the maintenance of the mobile communications network in a major financial centre...

    If it looks too good to be true... caveat pauper

  10. Piloti
    Thumb Down

    When will we learn.....

    .... that the Chinese only do something for "free" when they can make money out of it.

    And what happened tot he directive a little while ago [18 months pr'ahps] that BT had to stop using Chinese stuff ? I know this is not BT, but why must BT stop and others to carry on ? Frankly, this is all a bit suspect for me and I'm sure there is a better way than the Chinese way.


  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Helping develop the economy of yet another backward nation I see.

    Anyone prepared to bet on the length of time (to the nearest minute) between the service being turned on and an iPhone being shoved down its user's throat?

    1. Arctic fox

      Let me see now...

      Deep-level tube tunnels, connectivity, iPhone. Why am I beginning to giggle?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The last time Huawei...

      O2 and Vodafone should remember what happened to BT when they took up a too good to be true deal with this company.

      Huawei do not have, nor are ever likely to have any security accreditation status in the Western World, and the use of their equipment in a public network would automatically cause the network to loose any security rating it had.

      BT have had to build a separate non-Huawei network to allow them back into the government market, and they still are not trusted in certain quarters.

      Who the hell would be daft enough to give Beijing an off switch to our telephone network.....

      They probably will be though, in these tight economic conditions.

      Personally I agree the best reason for not doing it is that we don't have to listen to other peoples calls on the tube. Why do we need it, and if you are working for someone who'll sack you for being stuck on the tube, you really are in the wrong job.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Worst. Place. Ever.

    To make a phonecall...

    I have to turn up my music (whilst using supposedly noise cancelling ear phones) and shout when talking to someone face to face. Having a proper phone call would be next to impossible, nevermind the fact that 20+ people around you could listen in...

    3G data down there will be a plus, assuming it has the capacity for that many concentrated people (I suspect it won't during rush hour) but phone calls will be an irritating disaster of biz-twats yelling at each other down their Buttberrys 3 inches away from you.

  13. Graham 25

    Old story, new spin

    London Underground had an offer to do this in 1996 but balked at it due to half of the stations within the central 'bottle' being non-commercially viable. 'Huawei' bought the technology which was part of the original 1996 offer so its not entirely some Chinese bit of dodgy kit - its good old British dodgy kit !

    The deep tube sections of the rail network do not have enough space to put the RF cable in the tunnel and not foul the passing trains so some lines at least are safe.

    I'm not worried as people will soon learn they cannot talk easily with all the background noise and I predict the noise level will reduce as more people sit silently texting and emailing.

  14. Tom Watson 1


    Do we want mobile phone coverage on the tube?

    Is it completely unrealistic for Londonders to be asked about this?

    The tube is very noisy - the only conceivable way for people to use their phones will be to shout over the noise of the train.

    The trains are also very crowded, especially during rush hour - do we really want people shouting in our ear whilst being crushed up against them?

    How many phone conversations are so important that they couldn't bear being made in ten minutes time after leaving the train?

    We are already in touch with each other vastly more than any previous generation. They survived without the ability to communicate at absolutely any time. In fact they might be said to have turned out slightly more interesting communications as a result of actually thinking about them a bit first. Some were even longer than 140 characters!

    More importantly they weren’t shouted in my bloody ear.

    I don't know. Do we need it? Do we want it? Should we think about this before rushing headlong into it? Should it be a decision entrusted to BoJo or should the people who actually travel on the tube be asked to decide?

    Inevitably there will be some cash changing hands behind the scenes. And not to the benefit of 'the likes of me'.

    Give us a bloody referendum. It’s not hard to arrange. It just might not give you* the result most likely to line your pockets.

    * The Man**

    ** Boris et. al.

    1. Alex 14


      People use mobile networks for things other than voice calling these days. Text messages are not exactly a recent invention nor is mobile internet access, all of which can be done in an appropriate degree of silence.

      You're assuming that because people COULD call on an already deafening tube, they'll automatically want to. In my experience, people don't make phone calls on a packed and noisy bus, so why would they do it on the tube?

      1. Mark 65

        @Alex 14

        "People use mobile networks for things other than voice calling these days"

        Like remote detonation?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Good point.

          Horribly good, in fact.

          Frighteningly good.

  15. ChrisC Silver badge

    To all the nay-sayers

    Whilst it might not be the end of the world if you're unable to continue nattering into your phone for the entirety of your journey, it CAN be a big deal if you find yourself stuck on the train due to [signalling faults/stalled train ahead/runaway engineering trains/insert TfL excuse of the day here] unable to contact the person waiting to meet you when you get off the train.

    And considering how brain-shatteringly loud it gets on certain parts of the deep tube network, I doubt it would take long for most people to learn that attempting to continue a voice call once the train is on the move would be an exercise in futility.

  16. Tom Bradbury
    Thumb Up

    Going underground, going underground

    Given I got a signal 30m underground in a cave deep in rural China, I'm sure they can handle the tube in London without too much trouble.

  17. Juan Inamillion


    Over the past year or two I've travelled a bit on the Paris Metro where you CAN use a mobile. But it's a completely different experience. Conversations are conducted at a very low volume and this is in a train that's much quieter (non-steel wheels) than the Tube. A friend there tells me that Parisians take an exceptionally dim view of ill mannered users of mobile phones. In fact they take an exceptionally dim view of ill manners generally.

    Of course how your typical east end chav's response to being asked to 'tone it down' would be is anyone's guess. If they activate mobile use on the Tube I'll just use it even less than I do now.

    Funny old lot the French...

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Funny old lot the French...

      > Parisians ... take an exceptionally dim view of ill manners generally.

      Except their own, of course. Vive l'exception parisienne...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      solution to mobile phone problem

      Behaviour #

      Posted Monday 21st February 2011 14:02 GMT

      > Over the past year or two I've travelled a bit on the Paris Metro where you CAN use a mobile. But it's a completely different experience. Conversations are conducted at a very low volume .., Juan Inamillion

      It's one of the benefits of using the Tube that mobile phones don't work there. I was on the bus across from a chap who conducted his side of the conversation in like manner, very low volume . If only the rest of the population followed suite. But no, it's invariably some chav carrying on some inane conversation, who is under the impression they have to YELL into the microphone in order to cover the broadcast distance. Myself, I'm going to invest in one of those devices that disable mobiles nearby. Now where can I get one ?

    3. Piloti

      Are you serious..... ?

      I work with the French, in a French speaking central African country [where I am right now, in fact...] and I have to say, I have never meet a collective with less social grace, good manner and sense humility than the French.

      Being English, we do like to poke the occasional jibe at our Teutonic cousins, but compared to the French abroad, the Germans are a veritable delight.

      French, manner ?

      You're 'aving a larf!

  18. Broccoli Spears

    apologies for my ignorance

    but what has this got to do with the olympics?

  19. David 155


    Surely this would increase the risk of bombs that are detonated using mobile phones?

  20. David Precious

    Text/data only

    Please, please, make it text/data only! (And an exception for emergency calls would be sensible, I guess).

  21. Matthew Collier
    Thumb Down

    What about the phones ringing though?

    OK, so most twats will realise quite quickly that calls are probably not possible, but it won't stop all those bloody phones ringing constantly, often loudly, and often with some loud, annoying, shitting "tune"?

    Worse, in many cases, the culpret won't even be *able* to turn it off, even if they wanted to...

    Personal mobile phone blocking bubbles whilst travelling on the tube, for all, soon, I predict! ;)

    1. ChrisC Silver badge

      You don't need a signal to hear ringtones... anyone who's used public transport in recent years will be able to attest to. It's a rare journey indeed if I don't hear at least one "yoof" working their way through their collection of ringtones by hand, phone volume turned up to the max regardless of how much distortion it creates. And then, having finally exhausted the delights of the ringtone list, they then move onto the alert tones...

      But that aside, as I and others have already mentioned, the tunnel sections of the Underground network generally suffer from a lot of background noise, so the chances of being able to hear a ringtone above the squealing, rattling, clattering etc. that is the usual audible accompaniment to a trip on the tube is pretty slim. IME pretty much the only parts of the network where the ambient noise is low enough such that ringtones and voice calls would have the potential to be annoying are the overground sections - i.e. those parts which already have cellular coverage.

  22. Not a Happy Bunny
    Thumb Down

    Cant afford to upgrade

    Aside from the issue of do we want to use mobiles etc down there.

    Do we have money for this?

    Kit free, but the maintenance is not going to be cheap.

    Last time i looked TFL had problems paying for much need upgrades to help congestion, delays, signal failures etc.

    So London tax payer, pays for shit we don't really need/want.

  23. Pen-y-gors

    Beware the Greeks bearing gifts..

    Or in this case, Chinese. Given the track record of the Chinese government when it comes to cyber-naughtyness, this is a bit on a par with KGB Systems Ltd. offering to install a free new phone system for GCHQ!

  24. Stratman


    I presume this £100M contract has been through the EU compulsory competitive tender process?

  25. jamesrhamilton
    Thumb Up

    I truly don't believe...

    ... the Chinese govt have anything to do with Huawei. The Chinese have found their way - communism with capitalism that profits from other states. It's genius, and they know that this is only about profit.

    Anyway, is the plan for this still to be a 'roaming' network? Or will I still be on my actual carrier when I'm down in the choob?

  26. John Sturdy
    Black Helicopters

    What a beautiful horse...

    ... Trojan Horse, that is. Now not only will GCHQ and Echelon be listening in to London phone traffic, but also the Second Bureau of the GuoAnBu!

  27. pctechxp

    Not a good idea

    Why would they gift kit that can be sold for millions of pounds/dollars/whatever unless they were snooping, it just doesn't make sense.

  28. Futumsh

    RE: I truly don't believe

    Huawei is run by Ren Zhengfei, former PLA officer and Communist party member and has been investigated ans subsequently found to be a security risk by the US, UK and India. I'd say that the odds are that Huawei are dodgy.

  29. BossHog

    Do not want...

    .. no, please, no.

  30. bexley
    Thumb Down

    data would be nice

    A bit of internet browsing down there would help pass the time. However, anyone who has ever tried loading a web page at a busy train station will understand the futility of it.

    I get 4 bars of 3G at waterloo, cant even send an email on it though.

    As for voice calls on the underground, for gods sake no, please no. All you have to do it take a look at peoples faces down there to know that the place is miserable enough as it is.

    Invest in filtering the shit out of the air, far more trains to ease the crowding, finally solve the how to provide adequate cooling to the carriages problem that for some reason has still not bee solved, rocket surgery it is not.

    There is some wifi on the some underground platforms now, but you have to pay for it, and it's not cheap.

    Also, the fares had better not be rising to cover the maintenance costs associated with this, it's already horrifically over priced.

    All in all, i vote no

  31. peteste1

    Planes, Trains and Automobiles

    If you don't think people want to have screaming rows over the phone on buses, you obviously aren't in the right part of the country... god knows what it's going to be like on the tube. The Central line is already deafening - I guarantee you that you'll hear people bellowing into their phones when this service starts up.

    That's my coat - the one with the P90 and four full magazines in the pocket.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    air conditioning?

    why do people think air conditioning a tunnel 100ft+ below ground level is easy? you still have to get the heat out of the tunnel to the surface, which is a significant challenge anywhere, but very tricky under a major city. If it was easy it would have been done a long time ago.

    It's not a roaming network according to my sources but a slice and dice radio solution where transceivers are rented by the different operators.

  33. david 7

    What a bunch of Luddites!

    I've never heard as much whining about phones 'cos it's too noisey - what a load of crap pretending to be an excuse. With thinking like that you don't deserve to have mobile phones let alone an iThingy - they might ring and disturb some TfL staff members' statutory nap.

    Technical and financial difficulties aside, the myth that only terrorists and police will want to use phones on the tube perpetuates the excuse to do nothing.

    Disclosure: Yes I'm biased - and offer no apology. I came to Hong Kong to design the Mass Transit Railway (MTR) phone system 18 years ago after doing similar work in New York. I read this article on the way to work - in the MTR. There are usually few if any people on the phone in the morning - that is normal voice traffic pattern. The afternoon is different - but then everyones at it.

    I'm not sure I'd give the job to Huawei though... but that is another story. I guess the gov't has already decided better to outsource all UK jobs and the only employment opportunity in the UK will be delivering gourmet sandwiches to the few bankers not able to flee the UK/Euro bounus crackdown!

    1. fixit_f
      Thumb Down


      It's people like you who lack the basic courtesy and consideration to not disturb other people who don't deserve to have phones. YES - believe it or not, noise IS an excuse, some people do find noise disturbing and obtrusive at particular times. For me a train journey is a time for my own thoughts, quiet contemplation and maybe a bit of reading or some music - which before you ask I will play at a low enough volume that it doesn't escape the headphones. If I want conversation around me I'll go to the pub. You need to realise that anyone else in your carriage is basically a captive audience, so basic courtesy dictates that it's probably safest to err on the side of caution and assume they don't want to hear all about whatever banal drivel you feel the need to communicate to people.

      Sorry, it's just that noisy people on trains REALLY get on my tits. It really is only a matter of time before some sales and marketing twat upsets me on the wrong day and I smash their phone.

      1. zerocred

        So sorry that my reading The Register on my phone bothers you so much - NOT!

        I guess you get easily annoyed. Yes it is a pain in the ear. As I recall on the London underground the trains themselves are ear-splittingly loud - quite impossible to hold a conversation and no doubt ruining your yogic meditation after the long hard day with your earphones on.

        Don't get me wrong I don't like loud people on phones any more than you do and if the gereral response to people on the phone is they get it rammed down their throat they will learn not to do it. But it is vey convenient to be able to pick up your email and send the odd text on the move - I think that's what they invented these moving phone things for. To claim a fraction of your already unpleasant journey on TfL is made completely unbearable by someone on a phone for a mintue between the screaming tracks is ludicrous.

  34. A 31


    "Funny old lot the French... "

    you mean ALL the people in Paris are rude ? or is the whole of france same as paris ?

    or are you a WHOLE bigot yourself ?

    this article is about mobile phone access in tube during the olympics, go back to your daily mail pal.

    Now onto the topic, if the chinese are putting these in, it is because they WILL pump advertising down our phones, the network will probably be subscription based, then reselling thy'lle ad channel to advertising companies during the olympics.

    And if I wanted to make revenue out of it ... well I would do exactly that.

    as for whoever spoke about "remote detonation" ... not sure whether to be worried or not, but it makes a scary point. Having said that, 7/7 was using remote devices called fanatics.

    1. Piloti

      Bloody hell, you're right.....

      .... non stop adverts.

      Is there no escaping the damn things ?

      We'll I suppose : leave the mobile at home.


  35. Andrew Denton 1

    I wouldn't worry....'s been implemented by Thales (assuming they stay in business that long). No one can fuck up a project like that bunch of clowns.

  36. Nat Pryce
    Thumb Up

    Voice? Don't care. Data? I want it!


  37. donot needtono

    Huawei owned by Chinese gov

    you out of your mind, Chinese hardware back door monitoring your mobile calls...

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