Vodafone customers returning to the office in the next few weeks and months will no longer be able to access the London Underground Wi-Fi network on their commute.
The operator has quietly withdrawn support for the service during lockdown, meaning many users would have been unaware of the changes until they tried to log on recently.
The issue has come to light after one subscriber frustrated at being unable to connect to the network asked the company for assistance on Twitter, assuming there was a technical issue.
Vodafone tube Wi-Fi
The response given was: “We have taken the decision not to continue our WiFi service on the London Underground. We continue to supply 4G on the Jubilee Line between North Greenwich and Westminster as part of our partnership with London Underground.”
Meanwhile a statement on Vodafone’s website says: “We are no longer continuing our WiFi services on the London Underground. We will still continue to supply 4G on the Jubilee line between North Greenwich and Westminster and are continuing to invest our network above ground across London.
“This includes improved coverage at key stations, including Charing Cross, London Bridge and Waterloo in particular.”
It is unclear why Vodafone has not renewed its deal with Virgin Media O2, which operates the Wi-Fi network, but given the importance the former places on London and the business market, it is surprising.
Tube Wi-Fi access has become a standard feature of a mobile plan with one of the big four operators in the past decade and the move has not gone down well with Vodafone customers that live or work in the capital – especially given the lack of proactive communication.
Some have suggested they would not have renewed their contract with the operator had they known, while others were wondering if they had grounds for cancellation.
Essentially, unless Vodafone customers are travelling on the Eastern section of the Jubilee Line, they will be forced to pay for a pass to access the service, which launched in 2012. The network, operated by Virgin Media O2, delivers coverage in stations but not tunnels.
Previous attempt to bring mobile coverage to London’s subterranean railway network have all faltered and although current Mayor Sadiq Khan has pledged his support for such a project, it will take several years to make happen – even if a model can be agreed.
Former Mayor Boris Johnson once declared that mobile coverage would arrive by 2012 and his predecessor Ken Livingstone asked the industry for pitches back in 2005. A more recent target by Transport for London (TfL) was to have full coverage by 2019.
TechRadar Pro has contacted Vodafone for more information.