UK operator EE teamed with Nokia to build a 4G-powered network providing LTE connectivity to the skies for emergency services, as part of a troubled tender it won in 2015 to co-build a new Emergency Services Network (ESN) in the country.
In a statement, BT-owned EE said the industry first 4G Air-to-Ground network would provide high-speed broadband coverage to emergency services staff working above the ground from 500 feet up to 10,000 feet, enabling “seamless connectivity between ground operations and air”.
The companies explained the network would connect people, sensors and aircraft, allowing emergency services personnel to benefit from the ESN on the ground and provide the capability to communicate with airborne colleagues.
As part of the agreement, the operator will provide network equipment to conduct a seven-site trial, beginning in the coming months in Wales and London, before deploying the equipment at more than 80 government-owned sites across the UK.
Nokia will provide design support, network equipment, installation and commissioning services.
The partnership comes despite long-running issues with a proposed new 4G-powered ESN, which is being co-managed by EE.
The operator won a tender from the UK’s Home Office in 2015, along with Motorola Solutions and consultancy KBR, to build a new ESN running on 4G, however the project has been riddled with delays.
In a statement to Mobile World Live, a BT spokesperson confirmed offering services to ESN air users was always in the contract of the 2015 tender. Providing an update to the new emergency network, the company said it has now completed 99 per cent of its ESN road coverage requirements, but “delays elsewhere in the programme has impacted EE’s delivery of physical infrastructure”.
In May 2019, a government watchdog revealed the project was 50 per cent over budget and would not be ready until 2023, three years later than originally plannedSubscribe to our daily newsletter Back