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Free WiFi Internet access in trains at the end of 2016 and increased cellular coverage

Encouraged to develop Internet access in its trains after a tweet fromAxelle Lemaire, the SNCF has unveiled its digital strategy and the development of Internet access on its lines. The project will follow two main axes.

SNCF logoThe first concerns the reinforcement of covers 2G, 3G and 4G around the rail network which will involve consultation with Arcep, the telecommunications regulator, and partnerships with the four mobile operators to facilitate their access to its infrastructure in order to install relay antennas .

The other major action concerns the installation of the Free WiFi in certain trains TGV. SNCF had already proposed a solution using a satellite link, using an antenna installed on a train and permanently pointing to a satellite to ensure communication.

According to the admission of President Guillaume Pépy, this solution, as technically attractive as it is, has not completely met expectations and is not commercially relevant. So it's on a new project combining this time WiFi and 4G that the SNCF will work on.

Satellite antenna_1The satellite antenna presented at the end of 2007, which will ultimately not be deployed nationally

But providing Internet access at over 300 km / h remains a real technical challenge. SNCF therefore warns that WiFi access on trains will not be launched before the end of 2016 and that it will initially only concern certain lines: Paris-Lyon in 2016, then LGV-Est and Paris-Bordeaux around mid-2017, as well as the Paris-Strasbourg line.

The new device will be tested and validated from June 2015 but will require a delay for the equipment of the lines. For SNCF, this digital strategy also aims to remove the obstacles that have opposed it for years to operators, each passing the buck.