Eurotunnel and the British mobile telephone operators EE and Vodafone have today (9 January 2014) signed a 10-year agreement to offer mobile services in the Channel Tunnel. Customers of both operators will have access to 2G and 3G services in the North Tunnel (UK to France). Both EE and Vodafone intend to offer 4G data services throughout the tunnel in the future.
This will enable passengers of both Le Shuttle and high speed passenger trains to use their mobile phone or tablet device at any point of the journey through the Channel Tunnel. The quality of communication will be equivalent to a call made in Paris, London or anywhere above ground.
Providing such a wireless service 100 metres below sea level for the 20 million passengers who travel through the world’s longest undersea tunnel each year is a first. In order to deliver this service, Eurotunnel and its partners have overcome a series of technical challenges: the work was conducted without disruption to railway traffic, in a confined environment under stringent safety conditions.
Eurotunnel has equivalent agreements with the French mobile operators, Bouygues Telecom, Orange and SFR which cooperated for the successful installation of GSM-P services in the South Running Tunnel in 2012. At the time, UK mobile operators were reluctant to sign up after expressing concerns over the quality of the service provided.
Alcatel-Lucent is the supplier of both GSM-P and GSM-P equipment in the tunnels, while British company Axell Wireless supplied its fibre optic Distributed Antenna System (DAS) to propagate mobile signals, both voice and data, throughout the tunnels.
Consumer mobile services in the Eurotunnel will operate on a separate system to the specialist railway communications network, known as GSM-R, which is also being enabled using Axell Wireless technology.
Ian Brown, CEO of Axell Wireless explained: “Cellular connections in rail transportation are the future. Wireless coverage is the fourth utility – people expect it as a given, wherever they are.”
Wireless comes to Eurotunnel
Alcatel-Lucent to install mobile phone services in Channel Tunnel