UK Networks Wait As French Provide Channel Tunel 3G

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North tunnel ready to go but Eurotunnel passengers must wait for UK networks to sign

Travellers in the Channel Tunnel will be able to make phone calls and access the Internet 100 metres under the sea following the installation of 2G and 3G services in time for this summer’s Olympic Games.

Passengers on both Eurostar and Le Shuttle services will be able to access the service, but only when travelling to the UK,not on the way to France.

French operators Bouygues Telecom, Orange and SFR have all be signed up to provide services in the south tunnel, but British operators will not begin operating in the north tunnel until after the Games’ conclusion.

Channel Tunnel 3G is here

“Eurotunnel is proud to be able regularly to improve the services we offer to our customers through major technological innovation,” said Jacque Gounon, Chairman and CEO of Groupe Eurotunnel.

The project was piloted by Alcatel Lucent and the equipment was installed in just 10 months, while operating a full railway service in the tunnel.  It said that it was a challenging task, with the confined environment requiring the application of strict standards to ensure that both types of radio would work inside the tunnel.

“As a result of this collaboration with Eurotunnel, and which has used many of the different technical skills we have at Alcatel-Lucent, we are very proud to have contributed to the provision of new communication services on board the trains in the Channel Tunnel,” commented Pascal Homsy, Chairman and CEO of Alcatel-Lucent France.

The French operators will use a leaky feeder cable for transmission with optical repeaters installed every 750 metres. TechWeekEurope understands that the north tunnel is virtually ready for mobile services, and that all that is left is for them to sign the contracts. However it is not clear which operators are involved.

The project was first unveiled in March, with the sharing arrangement mirroring the symbolism shown during the construction of the Channel Tunnel, when engineers from both countries met in the middle.

Virgin Media won the contract to bring Wi-Fi coverage to the London Underground in time for the Olympics, with the first stations added to the network in June.

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