Thalys will introduce broadband internet access to passengers travelling between Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and Cologne by 2008, the company announced today. It will be the first international high-speed train to provide this service across European borders.
Thalys has selected Nokia Siemens Networks, UK based 21Net and Telenet (Belgium) to implement broadband internet access on board its high-speed trains. The consortium will combine satellite, GPRS and UMTS technologies with wireless networks such as Wi-fi to provide a continuous connection, even at top speeds of 300 km/h.
Nokia Siemens Networks will be responsible for the entire project management, as well for leasing bandwidth along the train routes and the antennas. 21Net implements and manages the bi-directional satellite connectivity, while Telenet will operate the internet services. 21Net already successfully demonstrated its satellite technology in July 2004 on two occasions, on board a 300km/hour train from the Spanish operator Renfe.
A trial will start this month, using bi-directional satellite-based internet access, with a network of access points available in every Comfort 1 and Comfort 2 carriage, both of which are already equipped with electricity outlets for laptops. Depending on coverage, the system can switch from GPRS/UMTS to satellite, even in tunnels.
The first Thalys trains equipped with this technology will run commercially from Autumn 2007. No prices have been announced yet, but Thalys says the service will be similar to Internet access delivered in hotels, bars, airports and train stations. The company will introduce gaming and video-on-demand too.®