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Free Wi-Fi to arrive at French train stations

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Free Wi-Fi to arrive at French train stations
Passengers at France's 128 biggest train stations will start getting free Wi-Fi this summer. Photo: Frederick Florin/AFP
10:05 CET+01:00
Starting this summer rail passenges will be able to connect, free of charge, to wireless internet in over 40 of France's largest train stations. Rail chiefs then have plans to expand the service across the country next year.

France’s state-owned rail company SNCF plans to roll out pilot programs in the Lille-Flandes and Avignon-TGV stations in March. Then they expect to install the service in 40 or so stations in Paris and the rest of the country by June, according to SNCF.

By the end of February 2015 SNCF hopes that a total of 128 train stations will be connected out of its network of 3,000  across France. However, the French rail giant didn’t provide an exhaustive list of which stations would benefit from complimentary Wi-Fi network.

"Our objective was that it be free for travelers," Rachel Picard, who is responsible for SNCF stations, told French daily Le Monde. "We couldn't put any additional cost on the stations, the system had to finance itself." 

Authorities hope the network will be self-funded by the sale of advertising. At present SNCF plans to make users watch a mandatory commercial before they will be able to connect online.

From 2015 onwards the service could then launch in another 30 or so stations in the greater Paris area, called Ile-de-France.

The service is being installed by private companies WiFi Nomosphère and WiFi Métropolis, who beat other bidders for the contract in September 2013. The former will be in charge of the infrastructure and the latter will deal with advertising and management. 

SNCF's President Guillaume Pepy, last October, made notice of the "company's swing toward digital," Le Monde reported. "We think we have to be the most digitized of all transporters."

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