NFC won't be coming to London Underground any time soon

NFC won't be coming to London Underground any time soonBack in 2008, I was sent by the BBC to report on a fantastic new technology that would change the lives of Londoners. It was called NFC and was the 'next big thing.'

O2 and Nokia were conducting a trial with London Undergrond to see if you could use a handset they had on their books as an Oyster Card (the London-wide electronic travel card, in case you're not familiar with it).

Well, four years on, it hasn't changed our lives at all really. NFC has not so much taken off as just walked a steady pace and now it looks like we won't be using our phones to swipe in and out of the tube after all. Quite frankly, London Underground felt that following (another) trial, it just takes too long.

“We have carried out tests on NFC in both 2008 and 2010,” Transport for London customer experience director Shashi Verma said.

“Unfortunately, during both of these tests, we found that the technology was not fast enough to complete the transaction in under 500 milliseconds, which we would require.”

It's a bit of a shame really as getting buyin from something like London Underground would have really given the technology the boot up its backside it needs and brought a bit more attention to it. Especially with the news that Apple is likely to drop NFC from the iPhone 5 (albeit rumoured.) And don't get us started on Google Wallet!

At least Tube commuters do have one new toy to play with and that's Wi-Fi on the Tube. It's been arriving gradually for weeks and everyday, it seems another underground platform is now connected.

Speeds are quick but unfortunately, the signal doesn't extend to the tunnels so you have to do a quick bit of surfing at each stop. And it won't be free after the Olympics. But for now at least, we'll settle for that.

Via GigaOM

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