Transport for London (TfL) updated their list of Wi-Fi enabled tube stations yesterday. They say that 250 (out of 270) tube stations now have Wi-Fi — plus Victoria Coach Station too.
A quick scan of TfL's own map reveals to us that there are in fact just 17 stations that aren’t Wi-Fi enabled, meaning 253 stations are (that's 95% of the network). Why are TfL being so humble? We'll get to that in a minute.
The 'greyed out' stations
First of all, which are the stations where you can’t you get your Facebook fix? The 17 ‘greyed out’ stations on the Wi-Fi map are:
Bond Street, Dollis Hill, Eastcote, Farringdon, Gunnersbury, Hanger Lane, Heathrow Terminal 5, Kensal Green, Kensington (Olympia), Putney Bridge, Moorgate, North Wembley, Ruislip Gardens, Tottenham Court Road, Watford, Whitechapel, Willesden Junction.
The real black spots
Why are they greyed out? Only Bond Street, Tottenham Court Road and (the Northern line platforms at) Moorgate are actually underground, and therefore total black spots - and because of all the Crossrail construction work going on at these major stations, don’t expect to see Wi-Fi here until 2020. (Tottenham Court Road's Central line is re-opening in the second week of December, and because this station had Wi-Fi beforehand, we’re hoping it might reappear.)
Other stations also not enabled due to Crossrail construction include Farringdon and Whitechapel, and are frustrating because one moment you are in a tunnel (no mobile coverage), then come out into the station in the open (hello some sort of mobile coverage), before soon dipping back into another tunnel (bye bye mobile network WiFi).
What about the other 12 stations?
Watford, at the end of the Metropolitan line, doesn't have Wi-Fi, most likely because it's closing in 2020.
Heathrow Terminal 5 is an interesting one: the station isn’t owned by London Underground — it's actually part of the airport, and when the station opened they made sure there was mobile reception at platform level, so it doesnt need Wi-Fi. Try it out the next time you’re passing through: you’ll get a five-bar signal even though you're deep underground.
Here’s another interesting twist: the London Overground has its own separate Wi-Fi network provider, and there are some stations that the tube and Overground share. So at Kensington (Olympia) and Willesden Junction although London Underground doesn't provide connectivity, London Overground does.
That leaves us with Dollis Hill, Eastcote, Gunnersbury, Hanger Lane, Kensal Green, Putney Bridge, North Wembley and Ruislip Gardens as the eight tube stations that categorically don't have Wi-Fi. None of these stations are physically underground so in theory you should still get a signal, but you can't. What did these eight stations do to deserve this? And why are they all in west London?
Post your thoughts below. Just don't try to do it while in one of the eight stations above.