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Vodafone UK and EE Bring Mobile Broadband to the Channel Tunnel

Thursday, January 9th, 2014 (7:51 am) - Score 6,107
channel_tunnel_link_between_uk_and_france

Mobile operators Vodafone and EE have signed a new 10-year deal with Eurotunnel that will make their 2G and 3G based voice and Mobile Broadband services available to commuters travelling 100 metres below sea level on trains along the Channel Tunnel (North Tunnel) route that connects the UK to France (4G will follow later).

Some 20 million passengers travel along the world’s longest undersea tunnel each year and delivering the new service to them has not been an easy task, with the work apparently needing to “overcome a series of technical challenges“. The new service will benefit passengers of both Le Shuttle and high speed (HS) passenger trains.

Eurotunnel also 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 during 2012.

Fotis Karonis, EE’s CTO, said:

We’re proud to offer customers a superfast 4G service when they’re travelling from the UK into Europe. It’s another technology first for EE, and it’s one that will make a big difference to business workers and people going away on holiday. Being connected is such an important part of travelling now and this will be another route we’ve covered with 4G, making a huge difference to millions of customers who can now make the most of their journey time.”

Sadly the press release doesn’t contain a lot of detail, although it’s stated that the 2G and 3G services will go live in the North Tunnel route during March 2014. Meanwhile superfast 4G (LTE) based Mobile Broadband connectivity is expected to follow sometime between summer or autumn 2014.

Customers of Three UK and O2 might now be starting to feel a bit left out but it’s reported elsewhere that Eurotunnel has asked them to get involved. The project itself will require around £5 million from the UK mobile operators, with more coming from Eurotunnel, which still represents a fairly small slice of the £802m that Vodafone spent acquiring the widest portfolio of 4G mobile spectrum in last year’s auction of new capacity by Ofcom.

Vodafone has similarly pledged to deliver 4G/3G indoor coverage to 98% of the UK population by 2015. Meanwhile EE expects to achieve a similar target by the end of 2014.

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