Ashurst advises BAI Communications on landmark concession for London underground high-speed mobile coverage

Global law firm Ashurst has advised BAI Communications (‘BAI’), a leading global provider of 4G and 5G connected infrastructure, on a 20-year concession agreement with Transport for London (‘TfL’) which will enable mobile coverage on the whole Tube network, helping to remove one of the most high-profile mobile ‘not-spots’ in the UK.

The concession will see a backbone of mobile and digital connectivity established across London. Uninterrupted 4G mobile coverage has already been introduced on the eastern half of the Jubilee line and will be expanded in phases to ticket halls, platforms and tunnels on the Tube network over the next three years, with all stations and tunnels due to have mobile coverage by the end of 2024.

London’s Tube tunnels will also be used to provide full fibre connectivity across the city, which can then be connected to buildings and street assets like street lighting and bus stops. This will help to further increase mobile coverage through small mobile transmitters, as well as leveraging the power of 5G to deliver city-wide improvements and future growth. The new high-capacity fibre network will bring fibre directly into London’s neighbourhoods, creating new opportunities to serve homes and businesses with gigabit-capable speeds and supporting digital inclusion.

The neutral host network being delivered as part of this concession will be the most advanced network of its kind in the world and available for use by all mobile operators. The infrastructure will also be 5G ready, allowing for a seamless upgrade for mobile operators in the future.

The Ashurst team was led by digital economy partner Amanda Hale, assisted by consultant Marcus Turle, senior associates Denae Engelbrecht and Adam Eskdale and associate Harry Newton. Senior associate Ed McNeil advised on competition and procurement matters. The team also comprised partners Terrence Van Poortvliet (rail), Alison Hardy (disputes) and Rebecca Cope (digital economy, Sydney), as well as lawyers from across the firm’s corporate, tax, environment and planning, employment and IP teams.

Billy D’Arcy, Chief Executive Officer at BAI Communications, commented:

“This long-term partnership with TfL will completely transform the passenger experience, as well as help to boost London’s economy and provide social benefits for years to come. It has been a real pleasure partnering with Ashurst, Amanda Hale and her team provided us with a first rate and commercially-focussed approach that we value greatly.”

Amanda Hale added:

“Recent times have proven the importance to us all of communications and we are delighted to have worked with BAI Communications on this important step in the development of London’s digital-infrastructure.”

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