EE aren’t just focussing on UK customers in their rollout of 4G, but are including holidaymakers and business travellers as well. The latest news from EE is that they will provide 4G services inside the Eurotunnel, allowing travellers and commuters to enjoy high speed mobile internet during the 35 minute journey under the channel.
4G for the Eurotunnel
EE has suggested that the twenty million annual users of the Eurotunnel could benefit from 4G in the same way that travellers on the London Underground benefit from Wi-Fi. According to EE’s Chief Technology Officer Fotis Karonis, “It’s another technology first for EE, and it’s one that will make a big difference to business workers and people going away on holiday.”
EE believes that Eurotunnel customers will make use of 4G for streaming films, researching their travel destination, planning the route for their onward journey, checking e-mails, or preparing for business meetings.
French network providers have been running a mobile service in the UK bound tunnel since June 2012, which was set up in time to be used by travellers to the Olympics. However there has never been a mobile service in the France bound tunnel, despite the technology and wiring having been in place since 2011.
EE has promised that 2G and 3G services will be available in the France bound tunnel by March, and that 4G services will be available in both tunnels by the summer. EE are not the only network provider to offer this service; the ten year deal with Eurotunnel also includes Vodafone, who will initially start by offering 2G and 3G services. Users of other networks will be able to switch to EE or Vodafone when they are travelling on the Eurotunnel, but this will incur an extra charge.
4G Roaming for UK Visitors and Travellers
Providing 4G in the Eurotunnel isn’t the only step EE has made to open up super-fast mobile internet to holidaymakers. In December the network agreed a deal with AT&T meaning that visitors from the U.S. who are on the AT&T network will be able to access 4G on the EE network whilst they are in the UK.
Building up 4G roaming services is a complex process as the handsets bought in one country need to be compatible with the 4G frequencies used in the country that the user is visiting. EE hopes to be able to offer their UK customers the possibility of accessing 4G abroad during the course of 2014, as they look for reciprocal agreements with other network providers.
It seems that staying connected is now an important part of travelling, and 4G users want to be able to access super-fast internet whether they are on a business trip or a family holiday. Over the coming year we are likely to see an expansion in the availability of 4G in locations such as the Eurotunnel as well as an increase in the number of agreements that allow UK visitors to access 4G here, and UK users to access 4G abroad.