Lancashire Police has admitted that its new £2.5m wireless wide area network (Wan) was needed because network pressure was affecting officers' ability to do their jobs.
The force has implemented the wireless Wan linking 55 police stations around the county, and believes that it will dramatically improve its ability to tackle crime.
It has signed a 10-year, £2.5m deal with Cable & Wireless (C&W) to replace existing point-to-point leased line connections. C&W will also provide ongoing support and training.
Kep Simcox, project manager at Lancashire Police, said: "We started the tender process 18 months ago because the network we had was creaking at the seams.
"Response across the network was variable and at times quite poor. It must have an impact on our ability to solve crimes.
"If you can't find information easily you can't direct inquiries efficiently or it takes you more man hours to achieve the same thing. Whenever you save time you improve service."
The first links of the new network are due to go live in the next few weeks and will offer 100Mbps capacity across the 60 main divisions in the county to support voice, data and video communications.
Simcox admitted that the need for structural surveys, and delays in getting planning permission for microwave masts, had forced him to alter the project's implementation timetable.
It is now expected to be completed by the end of October, to coincide with the Labour Party conference in Blackpool.
The new network will support an increasing demand for browser-based access to crucial systems including constabulary-wide email, intranet and internet, and the Holmes 2 national police enquiry system.
It will also offer the potential to support applications including video conferencing and CCTV for remote monitoring.
The force put the project out to tender through the Official Journal of the European Communities, a public sector tender licensing body, a year ago.
Initially it received expressions of interest from 80 suppliers, which were whittled down to a shortlist of six following advice from Manchester-based telecoms and IT consultants Masons.
"The response from C&W was technically very good, with 90 per cent based on microwave links," said Simcox.
"The ongoing cost of the network is quite low: you have to pay licence fees to the radio authority but we will give up £200,000 a year on leased line rentals, maybe more, and it gives a huge increase in bandwidth up-front."
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