EE has won a contract to provide a dedicated, country-wide 4G mobile network for police, fire and ambulance services.
EE secured the deal with the Home Office as part of its Emergency Services Mobile Communications Programme (ESMCP), and the new Emergency Services Network (ESN) should replace the existing TETRA programme by 2017.
Minister of state for policing, criminal justice and victims Mike Penning said the move would bring huge benefits to the UK’s emergency services.
“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,” he said.
As part of the deal, EE will build an additional 500 4G base stations to support the network, which will run independently of the firm’s main consumer and business 4G services, in order to ensure full capacity during times of emergency.
Some 300,000 emergency services personnel will use the network once it's operational, enabling them to take advantage of far faster mobile speeds for sending data ranging from live-streaming video and patient data.
EE also said it would release new 800MHz spectrum holdings it won in the 2013 auctions at 3,800 sites in rural areas to ensure coverage in remote locations, while the network will also support Voice over LTE calling, for faster call connections and better call quality.
The ESN from EE will also be used to host walkie-talkie communications between emergency services, enabling push-to-talk functionality.
EE said it will create a fleet of response vehicles to provide additional capacity or replace faulty kit, or act as back-up generators if power supplies have been affected.
The Home Office contract does not require the ESN to provide coverage on the London Underground but V3 understands the Tube's existing Airwave network will remain operational as part of the ESN.
EE CEO Olaf Swantee said the deal was a major win for the company and underlined the strength of its mobile network offering.
“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.”
EE has already secured deals with individual police forces, such as in Cumbria.
While EE has been trumpeting the deal, the firm than runs the TETRA network, Airwave, has confirmed it is pursuing a legal challenge against the Home Office over how the tender for the ESN was run.
“We do not believe that bidders, including Airwave, were given equal treatment under relevant procurement laws and we have therefore made a claim in order to protect our position for any loss suffered,” it said.
“We are not pursuing the continuation of a suspension as we do not wish to delay the procurement process, but remain fully committed to our claim.”
EE winning the ESN tender will no doubt help it push more of its newly introduced in-vehicle offerings aimed at the emergency services.
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