The London underground is one of the most utilised transport systems in the country. However, for years commuters have had a problem with accessing the internet while using the underground. In recent years this has changed as mobile service providers Vodafone, Virgin Media and EE have taken to providing wireless broadband to the underground. It has recently been released that O2 will also be joining these providers in their bid to allow commuter access to wireless broadband.
O2 wireless broadband on the underground
The O2 wireless broadband which will be available to commuters using the tube will complement the broadband already offered by Virgin Media. However, this is not happy news for all commuters as this access is restricted to O2 mobile phone customers only.
Virgin Media held the monopoly on underground wireless broadband until recently. This provider allows access to their network over 120 of the underground stations. O2 has been named the wholesale partner in this move to make wireless available to all commuters.
The real question is what does this actually mean for the commuter? People who are with the O2 network will be able to access free Wi-Fi while on the underground and stay connected to the internet on their tablets and mobile phones.
The service does not cost the consumer any more as access across all providers is free to their clients. Virgin Media is at the head of this operation as the fibre optic network it runs gives them the capacity to run this sort of digital service. Many see this move as the providers trying to make life a little easier for their clients.
How to use wireless broadband on the underground
Up until the beginning of 2013 the wireless offered by Virgin Media on the underground was free for everyone to use. However this has changed and the internet can only be accessed by clients of the providers. The problem is that there are only 4 carriers who provide wireless and there are a lot of people not on these networks.
For people that are not part of the networks who offer wireless there is hope. These people can purchase a pass to access the London underground wireless. The passes can be bought for a day, week or month depending on the needs of the individual. For people on the networks the wireless access does not cost them any additional fees.
Virgin Media customers
If you are a customer of Virgin Media it is possible to access the wireless network easily and at no additional cost. This provider offers coverage over more than 100 stations. The method you use to access the network will vary depending on the type of Virgin Media customer you are.
Virgin Media broadband customers will need to complete 4 very easy steps to connect to the wireless network. The first step is to turn the Wi-Fi setting on your device on and open the internet browser. The browser will automatically take you to the Virgin Media internet portal and you will be asked which network you use. You must choose Virgin Media.
The next web page will have more options and you must select the broadband customer one. Then enter in your username and password for your account with Virgin Media. You will automatically be connected to the network and the device will pick up wireless on the stations covered.
Pay monthly mobile clients will need to follow the similar steps to the broadband customers. You should enable to wireless on the device and open the browser. Select the Virgin Media option and the select Pay-Monthly customer. When prompted you must enter your username and password. You will be connected to the network and the device will accept this signal on any station which has it.
EE, Orange and T-Mobile customers
EE which was formally Everything Everywhere is an umbrella company which runs both T-Mobile and Orange. The company also offers 4G and fibre broadband through the name EE. If you are a monthly pay mobile customer with the company you are eligible for access to the underground wireless network at no additional cost. Pay as you go customers need to have topped up their account with £5 in the last month to qualify. The broadband and mobile broadband clients cannot use this service except if they have a mobile phone account as well.
Accessing the wireless network for these customers can be done in 6 easy to do steps. The first step is to set the EE WIFI to the number 9527. You will receive a password which will be used to enter the wireless service. You must have the Wi-Fi setting enabled on the device you wish to use. On the list of available networks you must select the Virgin Media WI-FI option. Now open the internet browser and it will direct you to the Virgin Media internet portal. Select EE from the list of networks and providers. You must use your cell phone number and the received password you received to access the network. You will now have access so long as the wireless option is on.
Vodafone customers can use the wireless network for free but the eligibility is more convoluted than other networks. To be eligible you need to be a pay as you go customer who has internet as part of the plan of a pay monthly customer. However, after November 2013 mobile customers who are eligible will only be those with internet in their plan even if you pay monthly. At this point business customers will also be eligible.
To access the network you will need to register with the My Vodafone service. Once this is done turn the wireless setting on for the device you wish to use. From the available networks you need to choose the Virgin Media WIFI option and open your web browser. Choose Vodafone in the list of options and then put in your My Vodafone information. You will now be able to access the underground wireless network.
Main Image Source: Annie Mole
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