London Underground gets emergency phone network
Airwave finally gets moving
The emergency services phone network, Airwave, was activated at 125 underground stations in London this morning, providing seamless coverage for service personnel working the tube.
Airwave is based on Tetra technology, providing cellular services for special handsets and (in theory) allowing emergency services to talk to each other from anywhere in the country, a service that now extends into the London underground system.
London has 125 sub-surface stations, and Airwave signed the £107m contract - including running costs until 2018 - back in January 2007, and started work in July of that year. The installation was pushed hard in response to the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes, and the following investigation, though how much difference it would have made is open to debate.
Tetra is capable of some quite clever things, with nodes acting as mesh routers to stretch coverage. Police occasionally use vehicle-mounted Airwave radios in that way, but no such complexity was needed for the tube deployment as London Underground was already in the process of deploying their own radio system - Connect - so they could communicate with staff. Airwave just piggybacked on that infrastructure to provide the back-haul.
The project was actually scheduled to switch on in March, but things went unusually well and the system became operational last month.
The systems are installed in the stations, but coverage projects down the tunnels too, so miscreants won't be safe anywhere. Still, Airwave is heavily biased towards voice, and has suffered accusations of being incapable of supporting the more data-centric applications such as throwing around video clips of criminals.
The rest of us still can't talk on the underground, obviously - unless we're in Hong Kong, where a technically almost identical underground network offers full connectivity to the commuting traveller. ®
I'M ON THE TRAIN!!!
I CAN'T HEAR YOU. I'M ON THE TRAIN!
Given carriage noise levels in most underground line tunnels (well above the 88dBa "hearing protection mandatory" under HSA rules for employees in most businesses) I suspect the only place you'd be actually able have a phone conversation on the Underground would be on the platform between trains or when stopped between stations in sweltering summer heat.
Mine's the one with earmuffs in the pocket.
Re: Airwave is poor value (are you surprised)
There may well be technical issues regarding the implementation, coverage and capacity of Airwave's system, but there's no need to bring a bunch of tinfoil hat wearing knobheads into the discussion. Have you actually read the drivel on the site you referenced? I appreciate that most Reg readers are keyboard jockeys rather than engineers, but for a good laugh have a read of http://www.tetrawatch.net/tetra/pulse.php If it doesn't have you in stitches and in despair there's no hope.
And by the way, wtf is 'humble mobe' supposed to mean?
PH because even she wouldn't be taken in.
Airwave is poor value (are you surprised)
...and has more safety questions against it than the humble mobe.
The obvious choice, in other words!