EE Wins £1bn 4G Emergency Services Network Contract

EE has won the contract for the new £1 billion LTE-based Emergency Services Network (ESN), which the government claims will save the taxpayer £1 million a day.

The ESN will replace the existing TETRA system, which has been described as “obsolete”, and allow the police, ambulance and fire services to access 4G data services and applications.

Examples cited include ambulance crews sending patient data to hospitals, policemen wearing body cameras and firefighters being able to access helicopter footage.

ESN Contract

Up to 330,000 end users will have access to the network and transition will start in mid-2017, with the Home Office claiming its advent will make the UK a “world leader” in emergency services communication.

“Today marks a major achievement in our effort to provide the emergency services with a new modernised communications network that is able to protect the public and save lives,” claimed Mike Penning, Minister of State for Policing, Criminal Justice and Victims.

EE says it will build more than 500 new 4G sites and develop a “resilient” core system to support the ESN, while long range 800MHz spectrum will be deployed at 3,500 locations. EE’s network will be able to prioritise ESN traffic when required and the firm will introduce satellite backhaul for hard to reach areas.

EE boost

The operator says the ESN rollout will boost its planned £1.5 billion investment programme and all consumer and business customers should benefit.

“We are immensely proud to be selected to deliver this vital new network for Britain’s Emergency Services,” said Olaf Swante, EE CEO. “We’ve worked closely with the Police and Ambulance crews to show the power of 4G in helping save time and save lives. We will now work tirelessly to deliver a highly resilient, truly nationwide 4G network to serve all of Britain’s Blue Light and First Responder teams across the UK.”

Last month EE showed off a number of connected products for businesses and the public sector, including EE Connected Vehicle, which turns cars into a Wi-Fi hotspot.

The product will be used by Staffordshire Police so officers can spend more time on the streets than at a desk, and the ability to create multiple private networks means police cars can share connections with other services, such as the fire brigade, during an emergency.

Motorola Solutions, which has just bought Airwave – the operator of the existing TETRA network in the UK – for £817 million, will work with EE on the rollout.

“As a company trusted with providing emergency and public safety agencies with innovative, reliable and secure critical communications technology, we are honoured to have been selected for this opportunity,” said Manuel Torres, senior vice president of Europe and North Africa sales & support services at Motorola Solutions. “We share ESN´s commitment and vision to equipping emergency and public service agencies with the functionality and capabilities that a broadband-based network can offer.”

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Steve McCaskill

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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