Is there phone signal in the Channel Tunnel? There is now!

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Excellent news on the day of the Channel Tunnel’s 20th birthday – now your phone will work during the whole journey. So great news if you can’t go 20 minutes without knowing what is going on in the world. Just a shame about the roaming.

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Back in 2012, the French phone networks got their act together and installed something in the south tunnel that would make phones work when travelling from France to Britain and finally Britain has got around to returning the favour. In the north tunnel now, on trips into France your British phone network should last all the way until you hit Calais, when the roaming will kick in.

Apparently Vodafone, EE and O2 will all be supported (presumably also the “virtual” networks that use their systems – the likes of Tesco Mobile etc) – with EE and Vodafone working from today, with O2 “coming soon”.

It’s a nice mirror of the way the tunnel has developed: From the start, France had high speed TGV lines running all the way to the Chunnel, whereas until 2007, before HS1 was built to St Pancras, once arriving in Britain the trains had to trundle on the slow lines through Kent before winding their way to Waterloo. But like with phone signal, we caught up eventually.

In fact, how long have we been waiting? Check out this TechDigest post from literally ten years ago expressing disappointment that it still hadn’t happened.

James O’Malley