EE 4G Upgrade To Boost Chiltern Railways On-Board Wi-Fi

Trackside EE 4G network will offer “continuous coverage” to business travellers

EE is build a trackside wireless network for Chiltern Railways with a view to boosting the quality and reliability of the rail operator’s on-board Wi-Fi service.

Chiltern Railways, which serves routes from London Marylebone to Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire and Birmingham, has already upgraded its on-board technology and says the rollout will happen in stages, leading to a full deployment by December 2016.

Trackside equipment will add additional capacity and coverage to Chiltern’s services and it is promised that the network will offer “continuous connectivity”, even in tunnels. The technology could be expanded to parent company Arriva’s other rail franchises if it is a success.

As part of the upgrade, EE customers will also benefit from better signal quality, even when not using Wi-Fi.

Chiltern Railways 4G

Chiltern Railways 2“We were one of the first train companies to introduce free Wi-Fi around five years ago on our London to Birmingham trains,” said Thomas Ableman, commercial director of Chiltern Railways. “Since then we’ve invested in 4G capability, however due to black spots on the line the service was limited in places.

“It was always our vision to deliver truly connected mobility and now, thanks to our partnership with EE, Chiltern will have the fastest and most reliable Wi-Fi in the country.  We’ve just made it far easier to do business on the move.”

EE has been working to improve the performance of its 4G network along the UK’s main transport arteries, including long distance train routes and major motorways. Maintaining a signal on a train can be difficult as signals are more likely to rebound off rather than penetrate the carriage.

The operator would not confirm whether it was working with other train operators to boost coverage, but was keen to reiterate its previous commitments.

“Our ambition is to connect people wherever they are. Trains – metal carriages that move at high speed – present unique challenges, and our network engineers are innovating to make sure that commuters can always connect,” said EE CEO Marc Allera, who replaced Olaf Swantee following BT’s £12.5 billion takeover of the operator. “This is just the beginning of a new approach to building a mobile network that’s always there for our customers, giving them the connection they need.”

A number of train operators already offer wireless connectivity on several routes, but the government wants to expand this network by requiring all bidders in future franchise auctions to make provisions for wireless connectivity. It is hoped that free Wi-Fi will be available to the majority of rail passengers in England and Wales by 2017.

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