Unless you're a Virgin Media, EE or Vodafone customer, you've either been shelling out for subterranean internet, or bid the London Underground's WiFi network a solemn farewell when free access ended in January. If you're with O2, however, your free pass has now been reinstated, as the bubble-loving carrier has become the latest passenger riding on Virgin Media's tube hotspots -- O2 WiFi users will even find themselves automatically registered. Also, the underground network will shortly be meeting its 120-station target, as Virgin will be flipping switches at the final 12 locations throughout this week (the station list is available at the source link). So, should you start seeing more people in more places frantically hammering their smartphones during those 30-second pauses on the platform, you'll know why.
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O2 hops onto London Underground with Virgin Media WiFi
O2 customers to enjoy WiFi on the Tube at no extra cost
Virgin Media hits 120 stations target
Vast majority of Tube passengers stay connected at no extra cost
Virgin Media has signed up O2 as a wholesale partner for its WiFi on London Underground service, enabling O2 customers' access to free London Underground WiFi from June. O2 joins EE and Vodafone as a wholesale partner for Virgin Media's WiFi service meaning the vast majority of Tube passengers can stay connected with full WiFi access at no extra cost.
As part of the deal, all existing O2 customers signed up to O2 WiFi will be automatically registered for free WiFi on the Underground, taking away the need to sign up above ground or remembering a password.
Virgin Media also confirmed another 12 London Underground (LU) stations are coming online this week, including Bank, Baker Street and Earl's Court. This brings the total number of WiFi enabled stations to 120, meeting Virgin Media's and TfL's target of 120 London Underground stations online.
Mark Williamson, Head of London WiFi at Virgin Media said: "WiFi on London Underground has gone from strength to strength and we're delighted the majority of Londoners are staying connected for no extra cost. Virgin Media's unique fibre optic network means we deliver unrivalled capacity for next generation digital services both inside and outside the home, meeting the increasing demand for wireless services."
Gary Booker, Head of Consumer at O2, said: "We're excited to bring free Underground WiFi to O2 customers this summer. Our customers want to stay connected wherever they are and will soon be able to check their email, update their Facebook status, shop online, book their next holiday and stay connected to their friends and family right across Tube stations in Central London."
Gareth Powell, Director of Strategy and Service Development for London Underground, said: "Having O2 on board is excellent news for the thousands of people that use the Tube everyday. Most customers will now be able to access live travel information or use social media to plan their social life while on the move.
"WiFi on the Tube is part of how we are improving services for our customers. 2013 is London Underground's 150th anniversary, we were at the forefront of technology when the first Underground train ran and this shows how we are maintaining that tradition, using modern technology to improve customers' journeys."
Virgin Media's comprehensive WiFi portal will continue to keep all Tube passengers up-to-date with TfL travel information and great London entertainment and news for free. Virgin Media also offers a Pay As You Go service with daily, weekly and monthly passes, giving Tube passengers a range of options about how to get online underground.