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Channel Tunnel gets mobile voice and data network

Channel Tunnel gets mobile voice and data network

Only French operators have started providing services

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Travellers on the Eurotunnel are now able to call and connect to the internet 100 metres below sea level, thanks to a new network from Alcatel-Lucent providing 2G and 3G services inside the tunnel.

French operators Bouygues Telecom, Orange and SFR have all signed up to provide services in the South Rail Tunnel using a leaky feeder cable for transmission, with optical repeaters installed every 750 metres.

The service will be open to all customers whether they are travelling by Shuttle or by Eurostar. However, the North Rail Tunnel will not be covered by British telecoms operators until after the Olympics.

This means that French Orange customers will be able to use the service as part of their standard tariffs, whereas UK customers will have to pay roaming charges until the British part of the network goes live.

“Eurotunnel is proud to be able regularly to improve the services we offer to our customers through major technological innovation, this time based on the expertise of Alcatel-Lucent,” said Jacques Gounon, chairman and chief executive officer of Groupe Eurotunnel SA.

Alcatel-Lucent said that equipment has been installed in 10 months, without disruption to the railway service.

Due to the confined environment in the tunnel, the company had to adhere to strict standards, and the specific nature of the Shuttles had to be addressed to ensure the appropriate level of transmission.

The technical teams also had to ensure that the different radio systems (GSM-P and GSM-R) would both work inside the Tunnel.

“As a result of this collaboration with Eurotunnel, we are very proud to have contributed to the provision of new communication services on board the trains in the Channel Tunnel,” said Pascal Homsy, chairman and CEO of Alcatel-Lucent France.

Last month, Virgin Media turned on its underground Wi-Fi service in Tube stations throughout London. The service is now available at a third of planned stations, and Virgin aims to provide Wi-Fi at 120 stations by the end of the year.

During the first four weeks of the service going live, Virgin Media saw 100,000 users. The firm said one million tweets, Facebook posts, emails and web pages were delivered in the space of a week.

“With millions of smartphones, gadgets and devices taken on to the Tube each day, the demand for data continues to grow and we're rolling-out a future-proofed service that makes superfast wireless connections the standard,” said Kevin Baughan, director of Metro Wireless at Virgin Media.

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