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About the emergency services network
The Emergency Services Network (ESN) will be the new communication system used by the 3 emergency services and other public safety users in the UK. It will be based on the latest technology, delivering secure and resilient voice communication but also broadband data services.
During the transition period, there will be no risk to public safety. The existing communications network, Airwave, will continue to operate until the emergency services have completed transition onto the new ESN.
The new ESN will be an essential part of Britain’s critical national infrastructure. It will give the emergency services the communications capability to match and exceed what they enjoy as private individuals. It will also enable police, fire and rescue, and ambulance services to keep up with the latest technological developments rather than be locked into using a proprietary product. It will also be much cheaper than the existing Airwave network.
The team delivering the new ESN has 2 key private sector partners who are developing and building the new network – the mobile network operator EE, who are building the new infrastructure and Motorola Solutions Inc who are providing the user services. The team is also supported by a delivery partner, Kellog Brown Root (KBR).
Trials and pilots
Keeping people safe is the ESN team’s priority. That means that the new ESN will be thoroughly and extensively tested with the emergency services before it enters service.
The scale and complexity of delivering national, end-to-end operational trials needs a credible, definitive and evidenced-based approach while remaining agile in the response to change. The ESN team is working with users and suppliers to design and carry out a plan for trials and pilot testing of the end-to-end ESN service to give the 3 emergency services the information and confidence they need to make a fully informed decision to start transition to the ESN.
The ESN is technically cutting edge – Great Britain will be the first in the world to deliver critical voice and data for emergency services over an enhanced and more resilient commercial 4G network.
Following the signing of the main contracts at the end of 2015 with mobile network operator EE, who will provide the new network, and Motorola Solutions who will provide the public safety applications and user services, the programme is now in the delivery phase.
The ESN will be built on EE’s commercial network, which is the largest 4G mobile network in Great Britain. The emergency services and other bodies will benefit from a dedicated core network which will ensure priority use of the EE commercial network.
The ESN will provide wide geographical coverage in Britain along major and minor roads, to rural and special coverage locations (for example, selected buildings, road tunnels and railway facilities, including London Underground and Glasgow Subway), 12 miles out to sea covering British territorial waters and air-to-ground communications (A2G) in England, Scotland and Wales.
There will be handheld devices available for users to access the new service. A contract has been signed for the supply of 4G handheld mobile devices and accessories from Samsung Electronics. Using a single ESN 4G device will be more effective, efficient and cheaper than using a combination of the existing Airwave devices and multiple commercial networks and standard 4G devices.
The first Samsung hard-wearing ESN-build handsets will be delivered in spring 2018. The procurement of vehicle and air-to-ground devices for police vehicles, fire engines, ambulances and helicopters is also underway.
Each ESN test stage has 3 test cycles to allow enough time to identify, fix and retest any issues, and demonstrates that the new technology works well before it is used by front line services such as the police, fire-fighters or paramedics.
If you are a supplier company who feels they may be able to help deliver ESN, please get in touch at ESMCPSupplier@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk.