Eurotunnel has today confirmed that Le Shuttle and High Speed Train commuters travelling along the Channel Tunnel (North Tunnel) route, which links the UK to France, can now access 2G and 3G based mobile phone and mobile broadband connectivity via EE and Vodafone (O2 will soon follow) thanks to a new fibre optic based GSP-P retransmission system. 4G is coming soon.
The development, which follows a January 2014 announcement to build the new service (here), confirms that the new network has finally been completed; albeit slightly later than the original target of March 2014. Meanwhile 4G connectivity is expected to be added sometime between this summer and the end of autumn.
The service is similar to that installed in the South Tunnel during July 2012 (direction France-UK) by the French operators, including Alcatel-Lucent, Orange, SFR and Bouygues Telecom.
Passengers will be able to make calls throughout their crossing at a quality equivalent to a wireless call made in London, Paris or elsewhere. From now on, customers who wish will be able to use their mobile phone or tablet anywhere in the Channel Tunnel. Beyond the initial 2G and 3G services, Vodafone, EE and O2 UK envisage offering 4G in the future.
The provision of a wireless mobile service broadcasted from the frontier point, 100 metres below sea level, as Eurotunnel does, for the 20 million people who travel through the Channel Tunnel each year is a feat unequalled in the world today. Passengers on the SNCF subsidiary, Eurostar, will also be able to take advantage of the investment made by Eurotunnel and the mobile telecoms operators.
The project itself is said to have required around £5 million from the UK mobile operators, with more coming from Eurotunnel. Sadly it looks as if Three UK chose to sit this one out, although related customers might still be able to connect by roaming onto EE’s network.