‘I’m on the Métro,’ Parisians can say from deep underground

‘I’m on the Métro,’ Parisians can say from deep underground

30 June 2020 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

Cover

Travellers on the Paris Métro can now use 4G mobile services throughout the underground rail system.

The four French mobile operators, Bouygues Telecom, Free Mobile, Orange and SFR, have worked together to create a joint network, covering all 304 stations that are underground and the running tunnels between them.

RATP – the company that runs the Métro – said it “thus becomes the first historic transport network to offer access to 4G on its entire network”.

Modern metro systems – such as Stockholm’s and Washington’s – have long had mobile coverage, but operators of older systems, such as those in Paris (pictured) and London have claimed lack of space.

RATP said of its travellers, “they will be able to keep in touch with their loved ones and continue to make calls, send SMSs, photos and access the internet while on the mobile on their operator’s mobile network”.

The four operators worked with RATP to install 300km of cable, 3,000 antennas and 280 equipment rooms across the network, including some infrastructure that is more than 100 years old.

Some equipment is housed outside stations, said RATP, “thus reducing space and air conditioning constraints”.

The whole installation was completed during the Covid-19 lockdown, noted RATP.

Meanwhile in London, with some tunnels that have been in use for more than 150 years, the Underground offers only Wifi in stations, and no mobile coverage between them, except in open-air portions.