EE wins lucrative emergency services contract


Operator has been selected by the Home Office to provide 300,000 critical emergency workers access to 4G voice and data for the first timeEE has won a lucrative 10 year contract with the Home Office to provide the UK’s emergency services with a resilient 4G mobile network.

In a landmark deal, it will provide 300,000 critical emergency workers with access to 4G voice and data for the first time.

EE’s new 4G Emergency Services Network will replace the existing Terrestrial Trunked Radio (TETRA) system from mid-2017 as current contracts expire.

Airwave, which was previously owned by Telefonica before being sold to the Macquarie Group for £1.9 billion in 2007, uses TETRA technology – similar to that of a walkie talkie with limited data capabilities.

Significant improvements

EE said its 4G network will “significantly” improve the efficiency of the emergency services by giving them access to the type of data and applications that have benefitted private businesses in recent years.

Some of the applications the new network will enable for the emergency services are: an ambulance crew sending patient data to the hospital to enable staff to make the best preparations for a patient’s arrival; a policeman recording an arrest on a body worn camera and live streaming to nearby officers for assessment and support; and a fire and rescue crew assessing a burning building based on digital blue prints on tablets and live helicopter camera footage.

EE said that in order to mission critical emergency services network, it will:

  • Build a new, highly resilient dedicated core network for the Emergency Services;
  • Build more than 500 new sites, expanding coverage in rural areas;
  • Switch on low frequency 800MHz spectrum on more than 3,800 sites to enhance rural and indoor coverage;
  • Implement the capability to afford network access priority to Emergency Services when required;
  • Implement VoLTE (calls over 4G), and new LTE voice capabilities including ‘push to talk;’
  • Deploy a fleet of Rapid Response Vehicles to ensure maximum service availability;
  • Implement satellite backhaul for Britain’s most hard-to-reach areas.

Multi-billion pound spend

EE said it has already committed to spend £1.5 billion on its network until 2017, and will increase that investment in order to deliver the emergency services network.

It added work to enhance and expand its network has commenced in order to be ready in time for the first transitions, and existing consumer, business and public sector customers will benefit from this.

The dedicated EE emergency services team will “work closely” with the current provider Airwave, Motorola Solutions, which will provide system integration and critical functionality for the new public safety 4G network and delivery partner KBR, as well as the 300,000 end users to manage a smooth transition to the new network.


EE CEO Olaf Swantee said: “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.”

In March 2014, O2 CEO Ronan Dunne exclusively revealed to Mobile News it had begun discussions with the UK government for the contract that he said was worth £7 billion over a decade.

However, the mobile operator withdrew from the tender in June, leaving EE as the front-runner for the contract. O2 said it wanted to remain fully focused on its proposed £10.25 billion sale to Three.