Eurotunnel signs deal with EE and Vodafone

EE and Vodafone have signed a 10-year contract with Eurotunnel to enable customers to use their mobiles in the Channel Tunnel

EE and Vodafone have signed a contract with Eurotunnel to bring mobile connectivity to the English Channel.

The 10-year agreement will see 2G and 3G services provided to Eurostar foot passengers and Eurotunnel drivers travelling the 53km through the North Channel Tunnel, which runs 100m below the surface, starting at Folkestone and ending in Calais.

Both operators have promised 4G networks in the future, but will be focusing the initial build on bringing standard connections to the 20 million passengers who travel through the tunnel each year.

The South Tunnel already has mobile capabilities after a deal was signed in the summer of 2012 for French operators Bouygues Telecom, Orange and SFR. However, UK customers were subject to roaming charges when using the networks on the Calais to Folkestone leg.

The 2G and 3G services are set to go live in March 2014, whilst EE has promised 4G by the end of the summer.

“We’re proud to offer customers a superfast 4G service when they’re travelling from the UK into Europe,” said the chief technology officer of EE, Fotis Karonis. “[It] 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.”

In September 2013, Eurostar confirmed it had finally agreed a deal to bring Wi-Fi to its trains. It initially signed a contract with Nomad Digital in 2011 to install the connections, but now through its partner Siemens, it has also gone with the firm to build Wi-Fi into its new fleet of e320 trains.

There are question marks over when these will be delivered, however, after a number of court cases were brought up against Siemens by French rival Alstom around the tendering process and the designs. Litigation ended in April 2012, but Siemens admitted it would miss its initial delivery goal of 2014, hoping instead for the trains to be operational some time in 2015.

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