EE, Nokia claim first for 4G LTE air-to-ground network for emergency services

Air-to-ground network uses commercial 4G LTE, enabling emergency services personnel to rely on uninterrupted communications throughout UK

BT Group subsidiary EE has signed an agreement with Nokia to build an industry-first nationwide 4G LTE air-to-ground network for the emergency services across the UK.

The 4G Emergency Services Network (ESN) aims to facilitate uninterrupted coverage, enabling emergency services to communicate with their airborne colleagues. It is designed to enable uninterrupted high-speed broadband coverage for up to 300,000 emergency service personnel working above ground with a range from 500ft up to 10,000ft.

The 4G LTE air-to-ground network will provide connectivity between ground operations and air, connecting people, sensors, aircraft and helicopters with what the partners say is the highest security and reliability.

EE and Nokia say the mission-critical network will form the world’s first emergency services use case utilising commercial 4G LTE broadband services in its field.

Under the partnership, EE will provide the active network equipment for a full reference facility, and an initial seven-site trial network. After the trial, EE will deploy the network equipment in more than 80 Home Office-acquired cell sites across the UK.

For its part, Nokia will provide design support, network equipment, installation and commissioning services to ensure timely delivery of the ESN 4G LTE air-to-ground network.

The first trial of the network will take place over the coming months in north Wales and London, enabling EE, Nokia and the Home Office to test the hardware capability over different terrain along with the hardware deployment process, software capability and operational support of the complete air-to-ground service, ahead of the roll-out of the final air-to-ground network.

“We are thrilled to partner with Nokia to build a first-in-class and ground-breaking 4G air-to-ground network for emergency services across the UK,” said Richard Harrap, managing director ESN at EE. “Our deployment of this reinforces our network leadership as the UK’s biggest and fastest mobile network, and harnesses Nokia’s deep expertise in network equipment and installation of an air-to-ground solution.”

Cormac Whelan, CEO UK & Ireland at Nokia, added: “With the help of this first-ever air-to-ground network using commercial LTE, emergency services personnel will be able to rely on uninterrupted communications nationwide. This project and its deployment are a perfect example of the type of innovative solutions that Nokia, together with our customers, can provide to the public sector.”

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