Upgrading emergency service communications Contents


The 105 police, fire and ambulance services in Great Britain (the emergency services) currently communicate using the Airwave radio system. The system is currently provided by Airwave Solutions Limited, a company acquired by Motorola Solutions in 2016, under contracts that now expire in 2019. In 2011, the Government set up the Emergency Services Mobile Communications Programme (the programme) to look at options to replace Airwave. The programme is run by the Home Office (the Department) but it is co-funded by the Department of Health, and the Scottish and Welsh Governments. The chosen option to replace Airwave is called the Emergency Services Network (ESN). ESN should save money by sharing an existing commercial 4G mobile data network instead of building a dedicated public service network. It should also provide emergency services with better mobile data capabilities. In 2015, the programme awarded contracts to Motorola Solutions and EE to provide the main elements of the new system and the current plan is that all emergency services transition to ESN by end-December 2019. By that time, £1.2 billion will have been spent developing the ESN and a further £1.4 billion on running down Airwave. The estimated cost once ESN is fully operational is a further £2.6 billion between 2020 and 2032.

19 January 2017