EE to roll out £1bn 4G emergency services network

Police on patrol

EE has won a 1 billion contract to supply the UK's emergency services with a 4G network for communications.

The new LTE-based emergency services network (ESN) should save the UK 1 million a day in running costs, claimed the government. This network will replace the existing Tetra network from mid-2017 and enable police, fire brigades and ambulance services to access 4G data services.

Minister of state for policing, criminal justice and victims Mike Penning said the rollout would benefit emergency services in the UK.

"Today marks a major achievement in our effort to provide the emergency services with a new modernised communications network that is able to protect the public and save lives," he said.

More than 500 new 4G base stations will be built to support the emergency network. These will run independently from EE's main network service business and consumers, in order to ensure emergency services have full capacity should they need it. Around 300,000 personnel will make use of the network when fully operational.

EE will also switch on its 800MHz spectrum at 3,800 sites as well to improve coverage. The mobile company will also make use of Voice over LTE technology so that personnel can make calls over 4G and enable push-to-talk as well.

EE's Emergency Services team will work closely with the current provider, Airwave, Motorola, and KBR, as well as all end users to manage a smooth transition to the new 4G network.

EE CEO Olaf Swantee said his company was "proud to be selected to deliver this vital new network for Britain's Emergency Services".

"We've worked closely with the Police and Ambulance crews to show the power of 4G in helping save time and save lives. We will now work tirelessly to deliver a highly resilient, truly nationwide 4G network to serve all of Britain's Blue Light and First Responder teams across the UK," he said.

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.