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Delayed Airwave replacement makes progress

Home Office awards multi-million pound contract to company

The long-awaited replacement for the aging Airwave radio system has finally began its first testing phase.

New Emergency Service Network handsets, which run off the 4G mobile network provided by EE, are being trialled by technology company, Telent, after receiving a multi-million pound contract from the Home Office.

It will put 100 of the devices through their paces from a variety of locations before feeding back on signal coverage.

The reports will inform how coverage can be further improved before the programme, which was meant to begin operating in 2017, moves onto the next stage of delivery.

In September, the Home Office announced it may not be fully rolled-out until at least the end of 2022.

The move, which is expected to save £200million a year, aims to transform the emergency services way of working, especially in remote areas and at critical times when faced with network congestion, giving them priority over commercial users.

General Manager of Public Safety & Defence at telent, Barry Zielinski, said: “As one of the most critical communications networks in the UK, it’s crucial that officers can communicate in real-time.

“This ambitious project will change the way that emergency services communicate and ensures that they are rightly prioritised. It reflects our credibility in the industry and delivery capabilities, putting us at the heart of the ESN. We can’t wait to see the transformation.”

National Police Chiefs’ Council lead DCC Richard Morris, said: “We continue to work closely with the Home Office and suppliers to ensure that the new Emergency Services Network will be as effective as we need it to be. Testing of coverage is an important step in assuring progress.”

Association of Police and Crime Commissioners lead Stephen Mold, said: “The launch of ESN Assure is a welcome first step to ensure the rigorous field testing necessary to deliver a new Emergency Services Network that will protect the public and be a more cost effective solution than the Airwave system it replaces. We look forward to further developments of this system in the New Year as ESN rolls out to more users.”

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