Vodafone wins ESN control rooms deal

Mobile operator takes on role of linking frontline centres of three emergency services to new network

The Home Office programme for a new Emergency Services Network (ESN) has moved forward with the award of a contract to Vodafone to provide the infrastructure to link police, fire and ambulance control rooms.

Police car lights in darkThe mobile communications operator has signed a five-year deal with the department, valued at £15.2 million, as the direct network service provider for the ESN. Although the award notice was published last week, it says it came into operation in November of last year.

The ESN will replace the existing Airwave network in providing voice and data communications to the three emergency services on the UK mainland.

Under the contract, Vodafone will provide the full coverage, resilience, security and safety functions as part of the Emergency Services Mobile Communications Programme.

The move follows the award of much larger contracts in late 2015, under which EE took on the provision of radio access and Motorola become responsible for the delivery of the user services. This follow the earlier award of a contract to Kellogg, Brown & Root to the oversee the programme.

It adds a further element to the implementation plans, but it is notable that the news has emerged several weeks after Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee warned that the December 2019 target to have the ESN fully operational is looking unrealistic.

An earlier report by the National Audit Office said the Home Office had acknowledged that “some slippage would occur”.

Picture from Scott Davidson (modified), CC 2.0 via flickr