Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 

Auto Wi-Fi log in London Underground?

SMARTY Maverick
SMARTY Maverick

Is it possible to set up a phone with a Smarty SIM card to Connect automatically to WiFi at London Underground stations? I can connect manually by clicking on the THREE WiFi link but have to do this at every station. By the time I’m connected the train is often leaving and I lose the connection. In the past, when I had a Three SIM card, this the log-on happened automatically.

i have downloaded and installed the Smarty configuration profile. I have an iPhone.

Any suggestions? Thanks.


SMARTY Trendsetter
SMARTY Trendsetter

TfL don't list SMARTY as one of the mobile networks that can access their 'free' Wi-Fi network at their stations. 

Three UK is one of the mobile networks TfL do support with their station Wi-Fi network. I guess if using the station Wi-Fi is important, it might be worthwhile considering one of the mobile networks TfL support with their underground station Wi-Fi.

TfL advise that if you're a Virgin Media, O2, Three or EE customer, authentication is seamless via your SIM card. 


I assume that as Smarty use the Three network then I should be able to access TfL WiFi via Three. I can do that it’s just the hassle of manually rejoining at every station.


Yes @StevenB_1465005, SMARTY use the Three UK mobile network infrastructure. They're a mobile operator in their own right, being a MVNO (mobile virtual network operator).

The TfL online pages seems pretty black-and-white on this matter.
At the time of posting, station Wi-Fi only works automatically with Virgin Media, O2, EE and Three.
I guess that could all change in April 2023, when BAI Communications take-over the Wi-Fi network operations for London Underground stations (from Virgin Media).



Can you confirm that you have followed the advice in this article?


Yes - have followed it. I can connect to WiFi at stations via Three but have to rejoin manually at each station.

SMARTY Trendsetter
SMARTY Trendsetter

Odd TfL's online information seems to contradict the SMARTY online information referenced by @MSF.

If SMARTY's "Free Wi-Fi on London Underground" advice was followed, then perhaps TfL are correct.

Given SMARTY have produced "Terms and Conditions of use – WiFi on the London Underground", it's strange TfL haven't added SMARTY to the list of mobile networks allowed to use the underground station Wi-Fi network.

SMARTY Trendsetter
SMARTY Trendsetter


From April 2023, operation and delivery of Wi-Fi at London Underground stations will become the responsibility of BAI Communications.

BAI Communications are also busy installing 4G & 5G network infrastructure throughout the London Underground network (including the tunnels), which will allow all mobile networks to call and text throughout the underground network.

This is slowly happening, e.g. on the Jubilee and parts of the Central. In the meantime I’m convinced there’s a way of accessing the WiFi automatically via Smarty (via Three)!

SMARTY have the following support article, which claims you can connect automatically:

But this hasn't helped in your case though?

SMARTY Trendsetter
SMARTY Trendsetter

Forum member @eekamouse found their Android handset needed to use the EAP-AKA security protocol in order to auto-connect to "THREE_WIFI" network (used by both Three and SMARTY customers).

I don't think an iPhone allows you to manually choose this security protocol when you setup a new network connection for a Wi-Fi network, but it might be worth 'forgetting' the "THREE_WIFI" network on your handset. Then maybe try setting-up a 'new' connection at a London Underground station, before you go underground.


SMARTY Maverick
SMARTY Maverick

Quick correction to @Chalkychap 's info : EAP-AKA is not needed in order to auto-connect. EAP-AKA is needed to be able to connect at all (I didn't use the word "auto" in any of my posts). If your phone can connect at all, then it must understand EAP-AKA. "Auto-connection" is orthogonal (independent) to any authentication protocol - it just depends on how your phone's operating system's programmers chose to code it.

@StevenB_1465005: I know nothing about iPhones, so I cannot specifically help you. All that I can suggest is to look around the UI to see whether there is an "Auto-connect?" check-box somewhere that you have missed (this may be an option for just the THREE_WIFI network, or it may be a more-general option somewhere under "Wireless" or "Wi-Fi"). If there is no "Auto-connect?" option that you can enable and you still have to manually connect every time you arrive in a station, then I am afraid that it would seem to be a limitation of the version of your operating system (iOS) that is on your phone.

Hope this helps. Eek.

Thanks @eekamouse my iPhone can connect so it must have EAP-AKA. There is an auto-connect option iPhone which I’ve had selected for a while now but still can’t auto-connect!

there’s a new version of the IOS to download and install which I will try and see if that makes a difference.

If there is an auto-connect checkbox, and you have checked it /enabled it, and it still is not auto-connecting, then that is definitely a bug in your phone's operating system. I have googled for similar problems on other mobile networks/Wi-Fi services, and many O2/Giffgaff people report the same problem ("No auto-connection") with the "Wi-Fi Extra" network (this is the O2-equivalent of "THREE_WIFI"). I happen to know that "Wi-Fi Extra" also uses EAP-AKA as its authentication protocol, so my guess is that these problems are all due to buggy implementations of EAP-AKA (and possibly other EAP methods) in earlier versions of iOS.

You may want to try disabling then re-enabling the "auto-connection" checkbox - this might kick something into action.

If you can choose which EAP method to use when you first connect to THREE_WIFI (I don't use any Apple devices so I don't know), then you can also try the following: "forget" your connection to THREE_WIFI, then reconnect using EAP-SIM instead of EAP-AKA. EAP-SIM predates EAP-AKA (which means that your phone's ability to handle that earlier protocol may be better) and my initial experiments show that Three's authentication server will accept either EAP-SIM or EAP-AKA (Three's authentication server is the machine that decides whether to give you permission to join the Wi-Fi network, based on information stored inside your sim.)

Alternatively, if you can upgrade to a newer version of iOS, then that may also help.

Kind regards, Eek.

Thanks for this information @eekamouse
There doesn't seem to be mechanism in Apple's iOS operating system (for iPhone devices) for the user to choose an authentication method for the Wi-Fi network they're joining.

The latest iOS (16.3.1) has an "Ask to Join Networks" option in Settings > Wi-Fi, which has three sub-categories:

  • Off (If no known networks are available, you will have to manually select a network.)
  • Notify (If no known networks are available, you will be notified of available networks.)
  • Ask (If no known networks are available, you will be asked before joining a new network.)

For each of these, "Known networks will be joined automatically."

As suggested, might well be worth @StevenB_1465005 'forgetting' the "THREE_WIFI" network on their iPhone. Thereafter, setting-up a 'new' connection at a London Underground station, before going underground.

It could all change from tomorrow though, because BAI take-over the Wi-Fi network operation from Virgin Media.

@ChalkychapOn your iPhone, when you manually connect to an 802.1X Wi-Fi network such as THREE_WIFI (if you're with Smarty or Three) or "Wi-Fi Extra" (if you're with O2 or Giffgaff) for the very first time, do you get a screen asking you for any information? On Android, we must manually select the EAP method (EAP-SIM, EAP-AKA, EAP-AKA', EAP-MD5, EAP-TLS, etc) and I am wondering whether you get asked a similar question on iOS.

I am intrigued about this changeover to BAI - there is nothing about it at all on the Smarty website (the instructions still only say to connect to THREE_WIFI). Do you have any details (such as which SSID to select), or is your info from the press releases?

Best wishes, Eek.

@eekamouse, I'm not in London often, but whenever connecting to a Wi-Fi network for the 1st time, iOS only asks for the network p/word (if it's required). 

The Mayor of London awarded BAI Communications a 20-year concession to operate an underground mobile network for 4G and 5G services. This also involves BAI running station Wi-Fi, taking over from Virgin Media, end of March/beginning of April 2023. 

Virgin Media mention end of hosting TfL station Wi-Fi online at: 
Scroll down to "How do I connect to Virgin Media WiFi on London underground?".

The TfL piece is online at, and it appears the 'old' SSID names are ongoing.

Three still say you just need to a valid Three SIM card present in your device, in order to connect automatically to the station Wi-Fi, provided:

  • You have iOS 15.4, or later.
  • You set the "access method" to "EAP", and the "EAP method" to "SIM", with an Android device.

@ChalkychapWe might be talking about 2 different things. I'm talking about connecting to an 802.1x Wi-Fi network (such as THREE_WIFI or "Wi-Fi Extra"), not an ordinary domestic Wi-Fi network - they are very different beasts. Are you talking about connecting to a domestic Wi-Fi network or an 802.1x network (secured by an EAP Radius server)?

Good point @eekamouse, I don’t use Wi-Fi networks secured by a radius server very often. TfL being a good example. Not sure when I’m going to next get a chance to test 802.1x connection with iPhone.

Sorry to have misrepresented your information about using the TfL station Wi-Fi network with your Android device @eekamouse

BAI Communications are currently provisioning 4G & 5G mobile network infrastructure in London Underground's network of tunnels, allowing use of mobile phones without needing to use a Wi-Fi network. They'll also be taking over the operation of the TfL station Wi-Fi network from April 2023 (from Virgin Media).

I use an Android phone and have the same issue with needing to reconnect at every station.

Did you follow the SMARTY instructions for using free Wi-Fi at London Underground stations @Bridgejunky?


There's more about this at


SMARTY Commentator
SMARTY Commentator


Are you saying that the WiFi works but it's just the pain of filling in the registration thing each time? I use a great app that does that for you. Once you log into one of those free WiFi places where you have to put your e-mail address etc in, it remembers all that and just does it in the background for you.

I think it was a few pounds but well worth it - especially as the WiFi at work needs a form filling in each time!