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Channel Tunnel Deal To Enable Mobile Phone Reception Under The Sea In Time For Olympics

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The whole of the  Channel tunnel will have mobile coverage by the Olympics
The whole of the Channel tunnel will have mobile coverage by the Olympics

Soon Eurostar passengers will be able to make mobile phone calls 250 ft under the sea, after a deal between tunnel managers and mobile phone operators.

Pioneering developments in technology by French company Alcatel-Lucent has enabled operators to create links with mobile phone signal even under the sea, allowing reception throughout the Channel tunnel.

Four mobile phone companies, including France Telecom, Orange and Free Mobile are reportedly involved in the deal with transport operators Eurotunnel.

The Channel tunnel mobile reception will also be "3G and 2G enabled" and is to be launched in time for the London Olympics, a spokesperson for French Industry Minister Eric Besson told the Telegraph.

The deal will reportedly be signed next month, with phone companies SFR and Bouygues Telecom also involved in the developments. Eurotunnel did not confirm or deny the deal, however a spokesperson told AFP:

"Customers demand mobile telephones wherever you go these days"

"So we want to make sure that we provide as many good services as any other travel organisations. We are looking at that right now."

Previously there was a 23 mile blackout between Folkestone and Calais, as the train travelled deep below the sea bed.

Although it's only a 20 minute window of improved signal, strong views on the subject of chattering travellers are likely to be levelled from either side of the Channel.

It's been suggested however that the French have a far more developed handset etiquette than the British. Parisans can use their mobiles even in the sections of the Paris metro that are deepest underground.

The metro was Europe's first transport system to gain mobile phone reception, and in November it was announced that there are also plans to roll out reliable internet across the service.

Although there were plans to have mobile phone signal onboard the London underground in time for the Olympics, there were problems with funding. It was also a deeply unpopular initiative in many quarters.

A poll in February 2011 revealed that 76% of Londoners declared they were against having mobile phone reception on the Tube.

Many people complained that their "last refuge" against intrusive chatter was now being threatened by those with less than perfect manners.

However the idea for mobile phone coverage across the Tube has not yet been shelved. After talks fell through in April, Boris Johnson said that having mobile phone coverage across the network was still a "long-term goal"

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