The UK’s planned emergency services network (ESN) is reportedly facing a new delay of up to a year, in yet another setback to the ambitious government project being co-managed by operator EE.
According to The Sunday Telegraph, citing government sources, the process of migrating services could be delayed, pushing back an initial target to connect the first users to the network in June 2018 by 12 months.
EE won a tender from the UK’s Home Office in 2015 to provide connectivity to the ESN, and is co-managing the project with Motorola and consultancy KBR.
A representative for the operator told Mobile World Live it had no comment on the reported delay.
ESN is designed to connect the country’s police, fire and ambulance services to a new network based on cheaper 4G mobile signals, replacing the existing radio network run by Airwave Solutions.
However, the project repeatedly came under fire following concerns rollout could be delayed and fears such a critical infrastructure could be subject to technology failures.
Rival operator Vodafone also criticised the handling of the project.
News of the potential year delay, therefore, does not come as a surprise.
The latest development could mean extra costs totalling hundreds of million of pounds to keep the existing Airwave Solutions network, due to be switched off in 2020, running longer, The Sunday Telegraph reported.
There were fears the existing network would, in fact, be unable to run beyond 2020, but the situation since changed.
Vodafone, which provides connectivity for the existing Airwave Soutions network with Motorola, had previously told the UK’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) it was going to scrap a system the network currently relies on within the 2020 timeframe.
A PAC hearing on the situation is being planned for next month.