Vodafone UK hit out at rival EE for failing to provide sufficient information on the progress of a new UK emergency services network (ESN) EE is building, and urged the government to better monitor the situation.
EE won a government tender worth more than £1 billion in 2015 to build a new network in the UK to be used by the country’s police, fire and ambulance services. However, the project came under fire in recent months, following reports it is at risk of being delayed and could be subject to technology failures.
The publicly-funded network will replace an existing system operated by Airwave Solutions, and is expected to be opened up to ensure access to other mobile operators in the country.
According to a report in the Financial Times (FT), Vodafone in particular is frustrated with EE for not providing detailed information on where the majority of its new masts in rural areas will be located.
FT said Vodafone wrote to the UK’s Home Office calling for a fully transparent process to be established to monitor the progress.
UK operators Vodafone, O2 and 3 UK will need the information to determine whether they want to deploy their own equipment to better cover such rural areas.
However, Vodafone said by January it had only received information on two sites from EE, while details of a further 27 sites were submitted at the start of this month – representing just 10 per cent of the total amount of new masts being built.
BT-owned EE said last month it had received planning permission for 99 per cent of the sites required to build and roll out the ESN.
“EE has offered just 29 from a possible 200 to 300 sites it could build with taxpayers money,” said a Vodafone company representative, adding: “We can only assume that this apparent indifference to parliamentary advice and the use of public money is deliberate.”
EE, which was forced to defend the network to MPs at the end of last year, hit back, stating consulting over every site would delay the network’s rollout.
“We are not getting obstructive but they (Vodafone) are not our priority,” an EE company representative said.
The operator added it would reveal further information on sites “within months”.