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Glasgow tube gets phone coverage

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Glasgow’s underground railway isn’t as well connected as London’s, but the Scottish city’s network will soon boast something that the UK capital’s tube network doesn’t: subterranean mobile phone coverage.

Carrier O2 has hatched a deal to bring mobile phone coverage to the city’s subway, allowing the network operator’s customers to make and receive calls, send text messages and access 3G services, including web access, while travelling beneath the surface.

Underground mobile phone coverage will be rolled out from December and initially cover five Glasgow underground stations, including Buchanan Street, St Enoch and Kelvinbridge. The service will cover the stations' platforms and ticket halls, but O2 said extending the service into the tunnels is an option it will be considering in the future.

Calls on the underground is the result of O2 signing a deal with Glasgow’s tube system operator - Strathclyde Partnership for Transport – to make use of a “multi-user distributed antenna” system.

Derek McManus, O2’s CTO, boasted: “This is the first time that any mobile phone network in the UK has implemented a service like this."

Although London Underground doesn’t yet provide mobile phone coverage on the tube, except for on the 60 per cent of rail that's actually overground, O2 added that Glasgow’s rollout could act as a benchmark for similar installations, perhaps across London, in the future.

Subterranean mobile phone use on London’s tubes has been talked about since 2005, when London Underground said that a six-month trial would take place in April this year on the Waterloo & City line.

The tube’s operator told Register Hardware that the trial hasn't taken place yet, but it’s previously said that the earliest date mobile phone coverage could be extended across the tube network is mid-2009.

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