Samsung won a contract to supply devices and accessories for use on the UK’s upcoming emergency services network (ESN), in a deal worth a reported £210 million.
In a statement, Samsung confirmed the award from the UK’s Home Office, explaining the deal will see it deliver smartphones and accessories for the country’s police, fire, ambulance and other public safety users.
Samsung said it will supply LTE smartphones developed through extensive R&D to “provide the most suitable solution for challenges which currently affect communication within the emergency services.”
The company said the phones will be fully optimised for the emergency environment, with a rugged design, water resistance, and hardware and software features supporting emergency services functionality and critical voice services.
A report by the UK’s Daily Telegraph placed the value of the deal at up to £210 million, involving the supply of 250,000 handsets. The deal covers a three year period, with the option of a one year extension.
As part of the functionality mentioned, the smartphones will reportedly feature a “push to talk” button allowing users to communicate without having to dial a number.
Samsung fended off competition from emergency services communications specialist Sepura. the newspaper added. Motorola Solutions, meanwhile, withdrew from the procurement process in the early stages.
Suk Jea Hahn, VP of Samsung Electronics Global Mobile B2B team, said next-generation public safety communications is an “important area of focus of Samsung.”
The UK’s ESN, a government project co-managed by operator EE, is intended to replace the existing radio network run by Airwave Solutions with a new network running on cheaper 4G mobile signals.
However, the project came under fire on numerous occasions since EE won a tender to provide connectivity in 2015, due to concerns rollout could be delayed and the infrastructure could be subject to technology failures.
The existing emergency network was due to be switched off gradually around the country by 2020, but this timeline is likely to change.
ESN is designed to provide mobile data services based on LTE, allowing a huge range of additional capabilities from the current system which is mainly limited to voice radio.