On July 26, David Meyer reported in ZDNet on the major launch of 2G and 3G services in the Channel Tunnel (Mobile services going live in the Channel Tunnel ahead of Olympics). Travelers on their way to England via high speed trains such as the Eurostar, will now be able to use their cell phones and access on-board infotainment during the 35 minute crossing of the tunnel. Thanks to Alcatel-Lucent, in cooperation with Orange, SFR, Bouygues Telecom and Eurotunnel, this technological feat was achieved in record time and under tight time constraints.
This success was underlined by Jacques Gounon, Chairman and Chief Executive of Eurotunnel Group who said “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.”
Many challenges had to be overcome to provide wireless service at 100 meters below sea level for the 20 plus million passengers traveling the 53 km tunnel annually. A technically complex project, carried out in a very short timeframe (less than 10 months), required meticulous management of work especially since the traffic in the Channel Tunnel (which is 24 hours a day 365 days a year) continued for the duration of the installation.
Elsewhere, the confined environment required a very strict adherence of standards for the various components of the GSM-P Alcatel-Lucent solution. Alcatel-Lucent had to comply with EHS Standards (Health, Safety and Environment) on the use of new generation radiating cables, especially concerning smoke and fire standards. Without forgetting the constraints of wave propagation in the tunnel and radio coverage which proved very complex, trains occupy the largest part of the tunnel as they pass and act as real “Faraday cages”, causing penetration of the radio signal thus making it weaker. Special treatment of the signals was therefore necessary to obtain a good quality of transmission, particularly within the trains. In the end, Alcatel-Lucent teams had to offer new solutions so that different radio systems could coexist in the Tunnel (i.e. GSM, R GSM-P, and the “Tactics System” used by firefighters).
After 10 months of hard work, the result equaled expectations. Thanks to the GSM-P system deployed by Alcatel-Lucent, Orange, SFR and Bouygues Telecom are now able to offer their customers seamless access to GSM and 3G services in the South Tunnel (direction France/Britain). Coverage in the North Tunnel (direction Britain/France) will be completed by British telecommunications operators after the Olympic Games.
> Read the Press release