Rating: French blow raspberries at Boris Johnson’s London Tube
The French really do have a good sense of humour. A deal has just been struck between the Eurotunnel group and four French operators which will enable those travelling on the Eurostar to make and receive calls plus send texts via 2G and should also provide a degree of data access via 3G. The system is very definitely based on technology developed by France’s own Alcatel-Lucent. However, it doesn’t appear to use ‘leaky cables’ but instead appears to be a modified version of GSM-R. The R stands for Rail more information see here. The joke, however, is that although the deal will be officially sealed on March 6th , it should be working in time for the London Olympics. But Brits who use it will be subject to high roaming charges. Ordinary French folk won’t have to pay so much.That’s because you have to be on France Télécom Orange, SFR, Bouygues Télécom or Free Mobile to use the service without roaming. Not sure about Orange UK customers, though.
Of course, there have been plenty of comparisons between Brits’ ability to use their phones underground and the situation in other countries.
For example, whilst Parisians can use their mobiles underground on the Metro, Londoners can’t do the same on Tube. But they can on the Heathrow-Paddington rail link.
Boris Johnson should be squirming over this one having been hoodwinked by the Brit mobile operators.
Even though China’s Huawei offered to donate suitable base stations, they blocked the move to have cellular working on the Tube.
The operators claimed that installing suitable antennae would have been too costly (see here). As GoMo News pointed out at the time, they should have been thinking laterally.
British technology developed by Zinwave allows any mobile signal to be carried over fibre optic cables. All you do is break out of the cable where you need the antenna.
Such a system would have enabled London to install 2G/3G, Wi-fi, and TETRA (for the emergency services) underground.
The French, however, have got 3G going in time for the Olympics and the roll out should only take around four months (July 2012). So they are obviously having the last laugh.