July 29, 2005

Misleading e-mail confuses mobile users on London Underground

by brian_turner

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London Transport and mobile phone companies have issued warnings about a spam e-mail giving inaccurate safety information. The message says that London Tube passengers can contact emergency services via a satellite signal from their mobiles underground. Mobiles do not work in the London Underground, and satellite signals cannot reach there.

A spokesperson from London Transport said: “This e-mail is incorrect. The 112 number does link people through to 999, but it only works if you have a signal on your mobile phone. If you have no signal bars on your phone, it will not work”. He said it would not divert to a satellite signal, even with a satellite mobile phone as these would not work underground.

A Vodafone spokesperson said that passing on false information could panic people and create vast amounts of work for people who have to deal with it.

Although the 112 number is the European-wide standard number to connect people to emergency services wherever they are in Europe, it is not accessible from mobiles underground in London.

Orange and Vodafone both said that a line in the e-mail saying “ALL phone companies have signed up” to a satellite link up service was inaccurate.

It is not know if the email is intended to deliberately misguide people, or if it is a result of misunderstood mobile technology.

Daniel Hepner, from web monitoring firm SurfControl said: “recipients should ignore its content and should resist the urge to pass on this information to others”.

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