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By | Paul Kunert 23rd April 2014 13:57

Who fancies a billion-quid bonanza? Just flog the Home Office some shiny walkie-talkies

Actually, a tip-top comms network for our 999 heroes

The UK Home Office is touting a mega contract worth up to £1.2bn to build a next-generation comms network for Blighty's brave emergency services.

Led by the Crime and Policing Group, under the auspices of the Emergency Services Mobile Communications programme, the new system must provide voice calls and wireless broadband connections to on-duty firefighters, cops and ambulance medics.

"These services require a mobile communications network capable of providing the full coverage, resilience, security and public safety functionality required by the 3ES [fire, police and ambulance emergency services]," the service contract's notice document stated.

The new Emergency Services Network (ESN) is expected to be switched on in late 2016, covering roughly 250,000 staff with "broadly" the same number of mobile comms devices in operation.

The deal being brokered will provide for emergency workers overseen by 44 police and crime commissioners, 50 fire and rescue authorities, 13 ambulance trusts, National Crime Agency, National Police Air Services, and three non-Home Office Police services (the British Transport Police, MoD Police and Civil Nuclear Constabulary).

The size of the financial prize is between £550m and £1.22bn, but this "depends" on the extent of the take up of services by other local government and public safety bodies, the tender stated.

The ESN contract is split into four lots: one successful organisation will be named "delivery partner" to move staff onto the new system; another will provide "emergency services user services" aka integration and testing; another will provide mobile call and data services; and a fourth will provide "extension services", including building out a "highly available telecommunications network".

The individual parts of the contract are expected to run for at least 66 months. Three to six suppliers will be invited to submit a tender for each lot from June this year, the contract notice stated. ®

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