Eurotunnel and mobile operators Bouygues Telecom, Orange and SFR have launched a GSM-P optical fibre system for 2G and 3G phone and data services for travellers in the Channel Tunnel.
The installation, which comes in time for the London 2012 Olympic Games, will enable passengers of Le Shuttle and high-speed trains to make phone calls and access the internet inside the Channel Tunnel.
Alcatel-Lucent has provided the equipment for the new technology, which helps to offer a wireless service 100m below sea level to the 20 million passengers who travel along the 53km stretch of rail between Calais and Folkestone in the south tunnel each year.
The equipment was installed in ten months without disrupting the rail service in the tunnel.
Eurotunnel said that its confined environment required the application of strict standards, as well as addressing the specific nature of the shuttles to ensure the appropriate level of transmission.
Technical teams also ensured that different radio systems, including GSM-P and GSM-R, would both work inside the tunnel.
The French operators will use a leaky feeder cable for transmission with optical repeaters installed every 750m to extend their 2G/3G network coverage in the south rail tunnel (France to UK traffic).
British telecoms operators will cover the north rail tunnel (UK to France traffic) after completion of the Olympics.
Alcatel-Lucent has installed 72 optical repeaters, while the other parties were involved in the deployment of a broadcast cable that runs the entire length of the south tunnel.
Under the project, Orange has set up a 2G/3G base station on either end of the tunnel in order to operate the system.
Image: 2G/3G base stations have been established on both ends of the Channel tunnel. Photo: courtesy of Holger Weinandt.