Chinese wireless monster Huawei looks set to offer to install a free mobile phone network on the London Underground as a special Olympics gift.
According to the Sunday Times the firm will offer the gift, worth $80 million, as a present from one Olympic nation to another in time for the event next summer.
It is thought that Huawei will install mobile transmitters along the ceiling of tunnels allowing tube users to make and receive calls while underground, which will probably make a nice distraction for the swathes of visitors who are stuck on a hot and cramped train on their way to East London.
According to Transport for London, talks have begun, though it was unable to confirm Huawei’s involvement.
“Transport for London and the Mayor of London are currently in discussion with mobile phone operators and other suppliers about the potential provision of mobile phone services on the deep Tube network,” said a spokesman.
There are inherent risks with the installation, primarily that the tube will no longer be a good excuse to turn your phone off.
Huawei has got itself a reputation in recent times for links with both the Chinese government and military. There are fears over in the United States that with all the network roll-outs could be an espionage risk on behalf of the Chinese government.
That is what Conservative Party member Patrick Mercer warned, saying there’s a chance the company could pose a security risk.
“It has been proven that a proportion of the cyberattacks on this country come from China,” he told the Sunday Times.
“I wonder when the eyes of the world are upon us whether there is sense in using a Chinese firm to install a sensitive mobile network.”
The news comes as a controversial deal between Huawei and California’s 3Leaf has hit the rocks following concerns by US authorities over national security – leading to a recommendation to Barack Obama to block the deal, which happened to really rile the Chinese Ministry of Commerce.