The Home Office is searching for a new provider of its emergency services communications contract.
The new communications contract requires the provider to take the emergency services from its legacy mobile communications to the new national mobile communication service.
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The contract, which will be worth between £555m and £1.2bn, will replace the current service provider, Airwave, which will also be able to rebid for the position.
Last June, the Home Office began the process of replacing services provided by Airwave with its Emergency Services Mobile Communications Programme (ESMCP) to deliver the Emergency Services Network (ESN).
The procurement will be divided into four lots:
Lot 1 – ESN Delivery Partner (DP) – Transition support, cross-Lot integration and user support: a delivery partner to provide programme management services for cross-Lot ESN integration; programme management services for transition; training support services; test assurance for cross-Lot integration; and vehicle installation design and assurance.
Lot 2 – ESN User Services (US) – A technical service integrator to provide end to end systems integration for the ESN: provide public safety communications services (including the development and operation of public safety applications); provide the necessary telecommunications infrastructure; user device management; customer support; and service management.
Lot 3 – ESN Mobile Services (MS) – A resilient mobile network: a network operator to provide an enhanced mobile communications service with highly available full coverage in the defined Lot 3 area (in GB), highly available extended coverage over the Lot 4 telecommunications network, and technical interfaces to Lots 2 and 4).
Lot 4 – ESN Extension Services (ES) – Coverage beyond the Lot 3 network: a neutral host to provide a highly available telecommunications network in the defined Lot 4 areas to enable the Lot 3 supplier to extend their coverage.
This new national mobile communication service aims to deliver integrated critical voice and broadband data services to all three emergency services (3ES) as well as other users throughout England, Scotland and Wales.
“These services require a mobile communications network capable of providing the full coverage, resilience, security and public safety functionality required by the 3ES,” the Home Office said.
The Home Office declared that the new ESN would provide users with a more cost-effective, operationally efficient and demand-led service – cheaper, better, smarter.
The Home Office said that new service contracts are expected to be awarded in 2015, to have the service mobilised from late 2016.
In the past the government and Airwave has been criticised for unreliable police mobile coverage, following the 7 July bombings in 2005. A committee was set up to review emergency procedures, which also looked into the delayed plans to link the Airwave system to ambulance, fire brigade and the London Underground.
More recently, the Home Office awarded the provider a £39m to expand its existing radio communication system used by 3ED, to handle the additional strain on services in the run-up to the 2012 Olympics.