French authorities moved on plans to create a communications network for use by emergency services based initially on 4G technology, awarding contracts to a number of players including Orange Business Services and Bouygues Telecom.

The Radio Network of the Future (RRF) is expected to be in the construction and early test phase for 19 months, with full operation for the system expected from 2024. The French Ministry of the Interior and Overseas is spending €700 million on the project, which will eventually be expanded to incorporate 5G.

Alongside Orange Business Services and Bouygues Telecom, other contract winners include a consortium led by Capgemini and Airbus, which is supported by other partners including Atos.

The system will use hardware from various players including Samsung, Dell and Ericsson.

In its statement on the move, the authority cited various benefits to its emergency services, including access to video calling, live position sharing and transmitting live medical information such as ECG data.

The network will upgrade a system which has been in place since the 1990s and is unable to transmit large quantities of data or real-time images.

“RRF will become the backbone of operational communications for security, emergency services and crisis management” units, the authority added.