Parisians will soon be able to stay connected whilst travelling on the city’s Metro and RER system. Although it won’t be before the end of 2015 that a commuter can expect uninterrupted internet access across the whole network.
However a new survey published in France on Wednesday suggests Metro chiefs may be wasting their time, because the French actually have little interest in the 4G network.
Sogetel, the company which provides internet access on the capital’s rail system said that by the 2015 the entire network will be covered by 3G and 4G.
If that feels like a long time to wait Sogetrel did have better news for the more impatient commuters, announcing that Metro Line 1 as well as RER lines A and B will be covered by 3G and 4G by the end of 2014.
RATP, the company which runs Paris transport network has given Sogetrel the job of installing the necessary technology in 300 metro stations and 65 RER stations that will enable the capital’s rail passengers to remain online even if deep underground.
The challenge for Sogetrel is to develop a shared network that can accommodate 2G, 3G and 4G frequencies from the the four mobile operators on the French market – Organge, SFR, Bouyges Telecom and Free.
So far only SFR and Bouyges Telecom have signed an agreement with RATP to participate in the roll out of 3G and 4G technology.
But is RATP wasting its time? A survey by Deloitte revealed that only 6 percent of French people have bought a 4G phone and 57 percent of respondents say they are not willing to sign up for a 4G contract, the main reason being because it is too expensive.
Improving its connectivity is not the only project Paris transport authorities have for the aging rail network.
Those who care little for internet access might be more pleased by a €70 scheme to clean up the Metro, announced earlier this year.
From October, there will be 3,400 unannounced, monthly check-ups by grime inspectors on the daily work of the 1,000 cleaning staff employed by RATP.
The inspectors will be tasked with ensuring a proper standard of cleanliness and odour removal from thousands of trains and 366 stations, including the notoriously dirty Châtelet-les-Halles station.