Wi-fi on the Eurostar and 4G: my experience

By Charlie Knight |


It’s Friday evening and I am currently travelling back from Brussels on a very busy Eurostar.  My working day is far from over so I am very relieved to find that I have a table to work on.  My 02 daily travel allowance has been exhausted – largely due to need to download a few e-mail attachments to start working on urgently.  I did notice that the 3G network coverage in the Brussels metro flipped across all 3 main mobile network providers (Mobistar, Proximus and Base) and there didn’t appear to be any black spots. Impressive!

So the email attachments received were from one of the 3 main Belgian operators. Their Friday afternoon resourcing forum had just happened and budgets had been allocated.   Two of my contacts had urgent requirements for time and material contractors, ideally looking for early February start dates which means interviewing next week.  The work starts here!!

Which brings me back to the fact that I have a two hour journey now back to London and work that needs doing urgently : but it isn’t that easy!  I need to do more work on the documents (plenty of battery so that’s ok) but I still have to access our company database and email the requirements through to the Vine Resources resourcing team.  Our customer expects us to maintain our exceptional focus on delivery which means finding the perfect candidates for the job. Big dilemma though – I am in Belgium (nearly in France), I can’t work on my i-phone as there is far too much content for such a small screen and I need to be online via my laptop but Eurostar doesn’t have wi-fi and the expense of using my dongle abroad would just be prohibitive!

I know this sounds ridiculous but I am extremely frustrated by this.  I have become perhaps too reliant on the fact that I can log on to a wi-fi network almost everywhere nowadays – both in the UK and on the continent – thus allowing a truly mobile office.  Furthermore, I have just been spoilt (although there are many who would disagree and find the whole thing quite intrusive) by the 3G network in the Brussels underground system.

So when will wi-fi services be possible on the Eurostar?  Eurail magazine (issue 26) states that Nomad Digital have been awarded the contract and that work has already started on putting in the technology .  There is the complication of travelling through 3 countries to get from London to Brussels which means that seamless cross-border connectivity has to be a main consideration along with additional content to make wi-fi a compelling product for non-business users. 

However before the mid 2014 scheduled launch date for wi-fi, the Telegraph reported on 9th January 2014 that EE and Vodafone will be offering 2G and 3G services below sea level from March 2014. The only downside really is that this will only be offered to customers of Vodafone and EE (02 and 3UK have yet to reach agreement) travelling from UK to France and that roaming charges will apply as soon as the train exits the tunnel in France. When travelling in the other direction Eurotunnel has struck agreements with French operators so that won’t help me in my current situation of travelling back to the UK!

In the time it has taken me to write this blog, we are the English side of the channel so I can use my 02 dongle without worrying about prohibitive roaming charges. Within minutes the requirements have been sent to the expert resourcing team of Vine Resources, based at London Bridge, who will probably have found several high calibre and highly relevant candidates by the time I get back to the office. 

It will be interesting to see how this all works: personally I would like to be able to connect in the International terminal and stay wi-fi enabled until I pass through customs the other end! Watch this space …..

By Suzanne Brannan: Vine Resources Client Account Director EMEA 

Source: Vine 16

Charlie Knight

Written by Charlie Knight

Charlie has 3 years experience in digital marketing, helping B2B technology companies grow their businesses through inbound marketing before joining Vine Resources as Content Marketing Manager. In his spare time, Charlie enjoys travelling and the great outdoors, and he recently hiked from Mexico to Canada for charity.


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