U.K. Emergency Services Risk Catastrophic Comms Failure

U.K. Emergency Services Risk Catastrophic Comms Failure

The ability of U.K. emergency services to communicate during a terrorist attack or other disaster faces a “potentially catastrophic” blow unless ministers reach a deal with Motorola and Vodafone to ensure continuity of their existing service, a panel of lawmakers warned, according to Bloomberg.

The program to replace the existing radio-based system used by police, fire and ambulance services with one employing 4G mobile-data technology faces a nine-month delay, the cross-party Public Accounts Committee said in a report. That means the government needs to renew contracts with Motorola to extend the current service until September 2020, when the new system is due to be ready, the panel said.

The lawmakers heard evidence from Motorola that Vodafone will stop providing a key piece of infrastructure needed to run the old system, Airwave, after March 2020. While ministers have signed contracts with Motorola and BT’s mobile carrier EE to deliver the new system, called the Emergency Services Network, that leaves a hiatus between the radio-based network losing capacity and the new system becoming operational.

“The potential consequences of a six-month gap in emergency service communications are unthinkable,” Committee Chairwoman Meg Hillier said. “Government needs to tackle this now or the result will be quite simply a tragedy in waiting.”

In an email, Airwave owner Motorola said it’s committed to a smooth transition. The company said it’s working with the Home Office and Vodafone to find technical options to extend Airwave beyond March 2020, and will deliver a proposal to the government in June. “None of this impacts our Lot 2 delivery of the ESN for which we are on track,” the company said.

Vodafone said it has been in detailed discussions with the Home Office and Motorola.  “We are actively working with all relevant parties to find an alternative solution to the old legacy fixed network used to link Airwave masts and to ensure continuation of service if the roll out of ESN misses its target date,” Vodafone said.

The Home Office said that keeping people safe is a “priority,” and signaled confidence that a fix will be found. “We won’t take any risks with public safety,” Minister for Policing and the Fire Service Brandon Lewis said in a statement. “There will be no gap in the emergency services’ communications provision.”

More from category

Verizon Selects Samsung for 5G Commercial Launch

Verizon Selects Samsung for 5G Commercial Launch

12 Jan 2018 comment

Samsung announced that it has been selected to supply Verizon with commercial 5G Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) network solutions. The two companies will begin by launching commercial 5G services in Sacramento, California in the second half of 2018.

Ericsson Signs Funding Agreements for 5G Research

Ericsson Signs Funding Agreements for 5G Research

2 Jan 2018 comment

Ericsson has signed agreements for credit facilities with the Nordic Investment Bank (NIB) for USD 220 million, maturing in 2023, and AB Svensk Exportkredit (SEK) for USD 150 million, maturing in 2025.

Huawei and NTT DOCOMO Achieve a New Breakthrough in 5G

Huawei and NTT DOCOMO Achieve a New Breakthrough in 5G

27 Dec 2017 comment

Huawei and NTT DOCOMO have completed a successful joint field trial for 5G mobile communications over a long distance with 39 GHz Millimeter Wave (mmWave) band in Yokohama, one of largest commercial areas in Japan.