O2 is first UK mobile network to access the underground

O2 customers in the Glasgow Subway will soon be the first in the UK to use their mobile phones underground as part of a new ground breaking deal.

O2 will be the first mobile phone operator in the UK to utilise the multi-user distributed antenna system which enables mobile phones to work underground.

The contract, negotiated with transmission provider Arqiva and Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT), will see O2 services installed in five of Glasgow’s busiest Subway stations: Buchanan Street; St Enoch; Kelvinbridge; Hillhead; and Partick.

The installation will go live in December 2008 and could potentially provide a benchmark for rollout in other underground stations such as London, in future.

Although initially limited to platforms and station concourses in the Glasgow Subway, the technology installed by Arqiva could eventually be used to provide coverage around the rest of the SPT underground network.

When the service launches, O2 customers will be able to use 2G services including making voice calls and sending text messages as well as 3G services such as video, internet access, downloading and MMS.

Derek McManus, O2 chief technology officer, said: “This new technology will enable customers to make calls, send and receive text messages and access a host of data services while on the subway platform. This is the first time that any mobile phone network in the UK has implemented a service like this and O2 is delighted to be giving its customers the first chance to communicate on the underground.

“Ultimately, this is about providing O2 customers with the best customer experience and if this means that they can continue conversations on underground platforms or can text friends to say that they’ll be arriving in five minutes, then we’ve successfully provided a better service,” McManus continued.

Gordon Maclennan, assistant chief executive (operations) at Strathclyde Partnership for Transport said it was great news: “This has been sometime in the planning but I’m delighted that we can offer this service to our passengers in time for Christmas. 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.”

The development of O2’s network within the key Glasgow subway stations is further commitment from the company to the city’s mobile infrastructure and follows O2’s successful backing of Glasgow’s bid to host the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

McManus added: “We were delighted when Glasgow won the right to host the 2014 Commonwealth Games and this further investment in mobile technology will further enhance the city’s reputation as a leader in technology and communication.”

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