Eurotunnel and the French mobile telephone operators, Bouygues Telecom, Orange and SFR have today, as planned, brought into service a GSM-P optical fibre system for 2G and 3G telephone and internet services, which will enable passengers of Le Shuttle and high speed trains to use their mobiles to make calls and access the internet inside the Channel Tunnel. This project, piloted by the equipment supplier Alcatel-Lucent is the outcome of successful cooperation by the French telecoms operators Orange, SFR and Bouygues Telecomi.
The use of cutting edge technology developed by Alcatel-Lucent and the telecoms operators has seen several technical achievements. To be able to supply a wireless service, 100 metres below sea level, to the 20 million passengers who travel the 53 km through the Channel Tunnel each year necessitated the resolution of a number of challenges. The equipment has been installed in 10 months, a record breaking period; the work was achieved whilst operating a full railway service in the Tunnel; the confined environment required the application of strict standards and the specific nature of the Shuttles had to be addressed to ensure the appropriate level of transmission. At the same time, the technical teams had to ensure that the different radio systems (GSM-P and GSM-R) would both work inside the Tunnel.
With all these challenges met, Eurotunnel is now able to provide a new service to its customers, whether they are travelling by Shuttle or by Eurostar, and once again prove its commitment to innovation. The French operators will provide an extension of their 2G/3G network coverage in the South Rail Tunnel (France-UK traffic) using a leaky feeder cable for transmission, with optical repeaters installed every 750 metres. The North Rail Tunnel (UK-France traffic) will be covered by British telecoms operators after the Olympics.