O2 offers free wifi on the Tube

  • Annie Mole, Flickr.

Going into a tunnel used to be one of the great ways to end an awkward phone conversation – even if you were nowhere near the London Underground at the time. Now those pesky people at 02 have moved to eliminate that tactic from the handbook of social evasion.

In partnership with Virgin Media, from June 2013 02 will offer customers free wifi in the Underground, which also allows users to receive and make calls using the TU Go app. So the days of being happily incommunicado on the Circle Line look numbered.

The service, covering 120 stations on the Underground, began during the Olympics, but is now being offered free of charge to all Virgin, EE and Vodafone customers. Other network users have to pay a charge to connect to the network. It means that those cramped rush hour Tube trains will now be subjected to an additional form of torture as commuters yell into their iPhones: "I’m on the Tube. Dunno. Edgeware Road maybe?"

Most mainline overground stations also have wifi networks, usually provided by The Cloud. With several rail companies including Virgin and East Coast also offering onboard wifi, it’s almost impossible to escape the relentless march of digital communication.

Only remote Scottish islands, Highland glens and the occasional Welsh valley offer the consoling and liberating state of being unable to get a signal. Ominously, this year Inmarsat, the British communications company, is launching a satellite that will allow cheap in-flight internet access on plane journeys anywhere in the world. The long-haul flight is about to become an office in the air.

Back underground, Three is now the only network that doesn’t offer its customers a connection on the Underground. That’s the answer then. "Sorry boss, I would have got your text message about the urgent meeting, except, for some reason my phone contract is with Three and you know what it’s like, no signal on the Tube."

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