UK’s EE won a government tender to provide 4G for the country’s emergency services, with the network set to replace “the limited and obsolete technology that exists today”.
EE, subject to a takeover by BT, was reportedly the only bidder remaining in the year-long tender process launched by the UK’s Home Office in 2014, so the award hardly comes as a surprise.
Rival O2 was its biggest competitor for the government’s £1 billion emergency services mobile communications program, up until June, but reportedly pulled out because of its uncertain future structure, given its potential merger with Hutchison’s 3 UK.
The new network, to be used by the police, fire and ambulance services, is designed to replace the existing two-way radio network run by Airwave, the communications firm set to be bought by Motorola Solutions for £817.5 million following a deal announced last week.
EE said in a statement it has already committed to spend £1.5 billion on its network up to 2017, and plans to increase that to deliver the emergency services network. It wants to replace the existing Tetra network from mid-2017.
As part of the project, the operator will provide 300,000 critical emergency workers with access to 4G voice and data, and plans to build 500 new sites to expand coverage in rural areas.
It will also switch on low frequency 800MHz spectrum on more than 3,800 sites to enhance both rural and indoor coverage.
“We are immensely proud to be selected to deliver this vital new network for Britain’s emergency services,” commented Olaf Swantee, EE CEO.
Airwave’s Tetra network, run by Motorola Solutions, has provided emergency network services in the UK for years, before the government took the decision to phase out the services entirely by 2020.
Airwave’s own bid to win the tender was rejected after being deemed by the government as “inflexible and expensive”. The company, following the proposed acquisition by Motorola Solutions, withdrew its opposition to the decision earlier this week, leading to the award.
EE added that it will work closely with Airwave, Motorola and delivery partner KBR to ensure a smooth transition.
“Lot 2” contract
Meanwhile, Motorola Solutions will have its own role to play in the new make-up of the network. The company today signed a “Lot 2” contract with the UK government to provide “system integration and critical functionality” for the new public safety network.
“We share the emergency services network’s commitment and vision to equipping emergency and public services agencies with the functionality and capabilities that a broadband-based network can offer,” said Manuel Torres, SVP of Europe and North Africa sales & support services at the company.