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France: internet connection available on trains by end of 2016

Libération reports that the entire French railway network will be connected to the internet between now and the end of 2016, according to French train operator SNCF, alluding to forthcoming works to be conducted with mobile operators and Arcep, the French telecommunications regulator. “We shall work in full cooperation with the operators and what we can say, without making a false promise, is that all French trains will without a shadow of a doubt be able to receive the internet properly between and the end of 2016, ” SNCF chairman Guillaume Pepy stated at the end of a press conference.

“The first stage is to carry out a proper diagnosis with Arcep and a technical diagnosis of the quality of reception on the network with specially equipped trains and a methodology that will be foolproof,” Pepy added. He stressed that there will then be a need to deal with notspots or areas of poor reception and then get round the table. “We are starting these measurements from March onwards so as to be able to share the initial results of these measurements in April with the four [mobile] operators and Arcep,” explained SNCF’s Digital and Communications Director Yves Tyrode.

SNCF is going “to facilitate infrastructure access to mobile operators for deployment of their antennas,” he added. “As an addition to this 3G and 4G coverage, SNCF is going to increase wifi coverage, but only in certain specific instances, such as some stations and on TGV trains,” he continued.

TGV train in Rennes station.
TGV train in Rennes station. Picture courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

An invitation to tender is underway to equip TGV trains with internet access (news passim), whose outcome will be known at the end of June. “We’re going to change technology. Up to now we tested technology which brought wifi and connection by satellite together and we’re going to change to a technology that will ally wifi on the trains with 4G,” he stressed. “The choice made five years ago and which was hailed by everyone, the satellite-based model, did not prove to be pertinent, neither from a technical point of view, nor a commercial one,” Guillaume Pepy commented.


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    […] This announcement comes in the same week as France’s SNCF announced a large-scale project to provide internet connectivity on the entire French railway network by the end of 2016 (news passim). […]