Samsung wins 999 contract for emergency services network

The South Korean firm are set to roll out LSE-enabled smartphones, although the Home Office timeline remains cloudy.

Samsung Electronics will supply smartphones for the Home Office emergency services network (ESN) including ambulance, fire and police teams across the UK.

The electronics giant is set to roll out LTE smartphones adapted to be water-resistant with a “rugged design” to provide internet-connected communication on the front line of public safety emergencies. Samsung Electronics tech will replace the existing Airwave network which mainly consists of voice radio.

In the era of ubiquitous social media mobility, the Home Office smartphones could stream crucial environmental data and facilitate effective deployment of resources from fixed-area bases. Network capabilities in the phones include mobile broadband data services via LTE, enabling live-streaming video, crime applications and location services.

The contract is for three years with the option of a further extension by one year. The procurement advertised a potential spend of £210m over the term of the contract and up to 250,000 devices.Samsung Electronics

High speed wireless LTE network connectivity is already enabled on many of Samsung Electronics’ consumer products, including its Galaxy smartphone range and Gear S3 smartwatch launched last autumn.

The National Audit Office said: “The programme expects to spend £1.2 billion setting up ESN by March 2020 before it starts to realise benefits. After this time, ESN will cost an estimated £500 less than Airwave per device per year and will have better data capabilities, allowing the emergency services to operate more effectively.”

Product images are yet to be released. However, the South-Korea-based firm promise the devices will include “both hardware and software features that will support emergency services functionality and critical voice services”.

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A Home Office spokesperson said: “The Home Office has awarded a contract for the supply of 4G Handheld Mobile Devices and accessories to Samsung Electronics that can be used for the Emergency Services Network (ESN).”

“Using a single ESN 4G device is more effective, efficient and less costly than using a combination of the existing Airwave devices and multiple commercial networks and standard 4G devices.”

Home Office Emergency Services Mobile Communications Programme (ESMCP), will deliver the new network and devices following a two-year delay compared with the timetable originally announced; main contracts had been set for award in December 2015, with the main service to begin July to September 2017. A new deputy director for ESN mobilisation post with a salary of £85k p/a was announced in March this year.

On November 13, Home Office permanent secretary Philip Rutnam defended his department’s delayed project before a Public Accounts Committee (PAC). In a follow-up letter to Meg Hillier MP, PAC Chair dated September 28, Mr Rutnam said “we will aim to have confirmed the plan for transition by December 2017”.