Passengers on the Brighton Mainline service are being promised significantly improved connectivity for their mobile devices, following the signing of a 25-year contract between Network Rail and two tech firms.
Mobile phone network Three UK will host its mobile voice and data equipment on new infrastructure from Cellnex UK deployed along the entire London to Brighton railway, including through Norwood Junction, East Croydon and Purley.
Three UK is the country’s first mobile network operator – MNO in techie jargon – to sign an agreement to join the service.
In a statement issued this morning, the operators said, “Three customers can expect to experience noticeable improvements to their mobile and data connectivity from later this year, with an uninterrupted connectivity experience along the line, both onboard the trains and at major stations, including Clapham Junction, East Croydon, London Bridge and London Victoria.
“Cellnex UK’s, infrastructure can host equipment from all four MNOs, meaning there is potential for all mobile and smart device users to benefit from enhanced connectivity throughout their journey.”
The Brighton Mainline is reckoned to carry 50,000 passengers on its busiest days.
At present, mobile internet and connectivity along the rail route can vary from a strong signal to no connectivity at all, with the line using a series of tunnels between London and the south coast.
“The lack of reliable connectivity along complete rail journeys is a frustration shared by many passengers and is something that Network Rail is keen to address,” said David Crawford, Cellnex’s managing director.
“Therefore, this agreement is a hugely positive step in improving Three UK customer experience along the Brighton Mainline.
“The Brighton Mainline project is an important element of Network Rail’s ‘putting passengers first’ vision and will also drive environmental efficiency as people are encouraged to swap cars for trains.”
Lucy McAuliffe, Network Rail’s interim Sussex route director, welcomed the rollout of 5G connectivity across the route, saying that the improvements would also benefit residents living close to the line. She said, “Passengers will be able to shop, work and talk whilst travelling and even have seamless connection when travelling through tunnels.”
Cellnex’s infrastructure upgrades will include the provision of:
- Towers that will allow broadcasting of mobile signal along the railway corridor
- A small number of “base station hotels” (equipment rooms) within close proximity to the railway to house capacity-increasing telecoms equipment
- High-capacity fibre running from Victoria and London Bridge via East Croydon to Brighton, and
- Bespoke radio equipment to provide uninterrupted coverage in the main London stations as well as the tunnels and cuttings along the route
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