Millions of people travelling through the Channel Tunnel will soon be able to use their mobile phones and access the internet whilst using Le Shuttle and high speed passenger train services, it has been announced.
Eurotunnel said it would install the 2G and 3G telephone system in time for the London 2012 Olympic Games. The WiFi service, to be offered 100 metres below the Channel to the 20 million customers who travel through the 53km tunnel every year, was said to be a world first.
The €14m project was made possible as Eurotunnel was already in the process of installing updated railway signalling equipment. Eric Besson, the French government minister responsible for the digital economy, said: "I am delighted by this initiative taken by Eurotunnel, by the enthusiasm of the French telecoms operators and by the skill of Alcatel-Lucent, which will combine to deliver this advanced technological project to the benefit of all customers travelling through the Channel Tunnel."
Eurotunnel chief Jacques Gounon added: "Eurotunnel, the vital link between the UK and France, is proud to commit to this investment which will enable the connection of peoples, nations and cultures in this time of instant communications."
British Labour MEP Peter Skinner said: "I'm delighted to hear that signal under the sea will soon be a reality. Many of us rely on mobile phones and the web to do our jobs and to stay in touch with friends and family. I know some people will mourn the loss of one of the few places that had remained free of mobile phone chatter but on the whole I think this is a positive step that will benefit commuters and holiday makers."This article first appeared on PublicServiceEurope.com's sister site publicservice.co.uk: Channel Tunnel to get WiFi and mobile coverage before Olympics