Government invites tenders for Emergency Services Network

Incumbent Airwave Solutions among several businesses invited to tender on the four lots of the new Emergency Services Network

The government has invited several businesses to tender for the new Emergency Services Network, to replace the existing emergency services systems, currently provided by Airwave Solutions, which will expire in 2016.

The ESN falls under the auspices of the Emergency Services Mobile Communications Programme, a Home Office-led, cross-departmental programme that aims to provide cheaper and smarter network services for ambulance, fire and police services.

Incumbent Airwave Solutions, which was heavily criticised over potentially dangerous gaps in coverage on a £2.9bn digital radio communications system it supplied to the police, has been invited to tender on lots two, three and four.

Other firms selected include EE, HP Enterprise Services, KPMG and Vodafone.

The new contract, worth between £555m and £1.2bn, will require new providers to migrate the emergency services from legacy mobility solutions to the new national mobile communication services.

The four lots on the new contract are:

  • ESN Delivery Partner, providing transition support, cross-lot integration and support, programme management services, training support, test assurance and vehicle installation design and assurance.
  • ESN User Services, providing end-to-end technical integration services, public safety comms services, telecoms infrastructure, device management, customer support and service management.
  • ESN Mobile Services, providing a resilient mobile network with highly available full coverage across the country, extended coverage over the lot four telecoms network and technical interfaces to lots two and four.
  • ESN Extension Services, providing coverage beyond the lot three network and enabling the lot three supplier to extend coverage.

The government also expects to require an enhanced commercial service network for broadband data delivery which – if needed for voice – will grant emergency services priority over other users, avoiding the necessity for a separate mobile radio spectrum.

The finished network will cover around 250,000 operational staff and associated devices, 44 police and crime commissioners and services, 50 fire and rescue authorities and services, 13 ambulance services, the National Crime Agency, the British Transport Police, the MoD Police, the Civil Nuclear Constabulary, and the National Police Air Service.

Full list of invited bidders

Lot 1: Atkins; Kellogg, Brown and Root; KPMG; Lockheed Martin UK; Mott MacDonald

Lot 2: Airwave Solutions, Astrium, CGI IT UK, HP Enterprise Services UK ; Motorola Solutions UK

Lot 3: Airwave Solutions, EE, Telefonica UK, UK Broadband Networks, Vodafone

Lot 4: Airwave Solutions, Arqiva, EE, Telefonica UK, Vodafone

More than 400 other bodies that interact with the emergency services regularly may need the ability to use the ESN, potentially adding 50,000 further connected devices. Such organisations could include central or local government departments, non-departmental public bodies and agencies, local authorities, and even NGOs.

“Interest in providing the new emergency services network and its supporting elements has been strong with 34 organisations completing in-depth pre-qualification questionnaires,” said the minister for state, policing, criminal justice and victim, Damian Green.

“After rigorous evaluation by the Home Office and representatives of the emergency services we are now inviting those organisations we consider to be best suited to tender formally for the work.

“We remain on track to deliver this key part of our critical national infrastructure by the end of 2016 and today marks another step towards the emergency services having the modern communications network they need to protect the public and save lives.”

Tenders will have to be submitted in the autumn of this year, with contracts to be awarded in 2015. The government hopes the new ESN will begin to go live in 2016, and be fully-deployed the following year.

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