Vodafone and EE to connect Channel tunnel

Vodafone and EE to connect Channel tunnel

British operators Vodafone and EE are close to signing a deal with Eurotunnel, which will enable the use of mobile phones and tablets under the sea during the Channel tunnel crossing, the Financial Times reports.

Sources close to the matter told reporters that UK customers would soon be able to make voice calls and use 3G services while travelling the 23 miles of the world’s longest undersea tunnel.

French mobile users – via networks from Bouygues Telecom, Orange and SFR – have had access to voice and data services on the journey since 2012, but costs and technical issues are said to be to blame for the delay in the British deployment.

Once an agreement has been finalised with Eurotunnel, EE and Vodafone will reportedly roll out voice and 3G services in March this year, with 4G services expected to go live in the summer.

“It is another technology first for EE, and it is one that will make a big difference to business workers and people going away on holiday,” said Fotis Karonis, CTO at EE.

“Being connected is such an important part of travelling now and this will be another route we have covered with 4G, making a huge difference to millions of customers who can now make the most of their journey time.”

The additional infrastructure required to implement the services will send mobile signals 100 metres below the sea and will cost the two operators an estimated £5 million. Additional investment will be provided by Eurotunnel.

Orange and T-Mobile both operate under the EE brand and other British operators Three and Telefónica – under its O2 unit – have also been approached to deploy the service.