EE has just won the tender to supply 4G communications services for UK’s emergency services, replacing Tetra, the aging two-way radio network currently in use.
The project, scheduled to go live in 2017, will offer hundreds of thousands of first responders with access to 4G voice and data. EE plans to build new core network (backed up by satellite in blackspots) and use low frequency 800MHz spectrum.
Mobile data for first responders is a no-brainer really: imagine the advantages of police or paramedical staff being able to send or receive images of accident scenes in advance. Valuable minutes, equating to lives, could be saved.
Across the Atlantic Firstnet, the organization tasked with creating a first responders’ network for the United States by the 9/11 commission, has completed the updates to its operational architecture, clearing the way – hopefully – for RFP issue in the near future. Given the federal nature of the US police, creation of a unified first responders network is a daunting task, which is probably why it has taken quite so long – over 10,000 stakeholders have provided inputs into the architecture.
Given the speed at which technology is evolving one can only hope that the rest of the industry has not moved on to 5G before the emergency services finally start making VoLTE calls.