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Airwave chief slams Home Office decision to award EE lucrative Emergency Service contract

Alex Yau
December 24, 2015

EE rejects any suggestions its  network is not “resilient enough” to effectively manage “life or death situations”.

Airwave has hit out at the Home Office for awarding the national Emergency Services contract to EE, suggesting its rival’s network is unfit for purpose in life or death situations.

The contract, which Airwave has held for more than a decade running on its Terrestrial Radio Systems network, will switch over to EE in 2017, providing full connectivity to more than 300,000 staff (fire brigade, police, ambulance).

Airwave’s chief operating officer John Lewis slammed the decision claiming EE’s network is not “resilient enough” in emergency situations – such as flooding. He also claimed Airwave has superior geographical network coverage of 99 per cent, compared to EE’s 60 percent.

“EE’s network won’t be resilient enough to support emergency services who rely on the current network for life or death situations,” said Lewis.

“We have unique sites where no-one else has, like in remote areas or the London Underground. These are places where EE doesn’t cover.

“The entire Airwave network has been designed to not fail as frequently as a mobile network.”

Rapid response

EE has however dismissed the claims and argued its network will have the necessary infrastructure in place to fully support Britain’s emergency services by mid-2017 – with a geographic coverage above 90 per cent

The mobile operator also noted it has 20,000 masts, compared to Airwave’s 4,000 and is able to offer cost saving services using its data network – something Airwave’s 2G network is unable to provide.

“We’re disappointed to see that Airwave’s aim is now apparently to disrupt the introduction of vital new 4G technology that will benefit Britain’s Emergency Services and help to save lives. The comments made today by Airwave seem to neglect the fact that the ESN is not going live until 2017, after nearly two years of investment in growing coverage and enhancing reliability. We look forward to working with the Airwave team, and hope they’ll become more supportive of the transition to help their end user customers.”

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