Avanti West Coast partners with BT to upgrade rail line Wi-Fi coverage

Posted: 17 August 2021 | | No comments yet

Avanti West Coast is investing £45 million in a deal with BT to boost digital connectivity for customers on the West Coast Main Line, through upgrades to mobile and Wi-Fi infrastructure.

An Avanti West Coast locomotive

Credit: Avanti West Coast

The partnership will see BT affix network capacity to nearly 200 cell masts via its mobile arm EE therefore, boosting 4G network coverage on the West Coast route by June 2023. The enhancements and expansions will enable faster and more reliable train Wi-Fi for customers traveling on-board the Avanti West Coast line. The investments will use technology upgrades to address Wi-Fi blackspots where signal is weak or non-existent. 

The ongoing programme will improve connectivity and digital experience while on the move. Customers connected to the on-board Wi-Fi will be able to browse the internet, send and receive emails and make video calls more seamlessly.

BT will provide the infrastructure and connectivity to enable the on-board Wi-Fi, however upgrades to the Wi-Fi system will be made by Avanti West Coast, as part of its investment. This will establish a reliable connection for customers accessing the internet for free on their device.

Furthermore, technology enhancements and additional masts will also provide better connectivity for EE customers who are local to the West Coast Main Line, as well as emergency service respondents in the area, due to faster data transfer speeds available and more mobile devices able to use the network simultaneously.

This will also enhance coverage in areas with existing 4G, as well as introduce new 4G coverage. Areas awaiting these benefits include: Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Merseyside, and Staffordshire, as well as regions of Lancashire, Cumbria, and Edinburgh.

Avanti West Coast’s upgrade work, supported by the Department for Transport, is a win for everyone who uses or lives close to the West Coast Main Line,” said Chris Heaton-Harris, Rail Minister. “Investing in better connectivity helps transform rail travel, improving journeys for passengers by building a black-spot free network, with the added benefit of supporting local communities.”

Phil Whittingham, Managing Director at Avanti West Coast, commented: “This is a really exciting partnership with BT. The benefits of working with the UK’s leading telecommunications and network provider, on this project, will enhance reliability of our on-board Wi-Fi and give our customers faster speeds and extended coverage on our route.

“It’s a significant step towards better digital connectivity on the West Coast Main Line, which has never been more important. These improvements will enable our customers to stay connected during their journey and be more productive on-board our trains, while boosting mobile coverage for communities local to our route.”

Sarah Walker, BT Corporate and Public Sector Director and Enterprise Sponsor for UK Rail Strategy said: “The West Coast Main Line is one of the UK’s busiest transport routes and as more people begin returning to offices and others travel for leisure purposes, they will enjoy an enhanced mobile service, delivering quality and reliable connectivity whilst on-board.”

“Whether needing to join a call for work, listen to music or simply browse the internet, our network has been designed to ensure seamless connectivity for passengers. Not only will the investment in 4G infrastructure benefit rail users, but it will also improve connectivity in towns and villages where masts have been installed or upgraded,” Sarah added.

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