U.K. Union Says ESN Delays Help Airwave Workers
Tuesday, January 02, 2018 | Comments

The U.K. Communications Workers Union (CWU) said further delays to the rollout of the new U.K. Emergency Services Network (ESN) system mean that members in Airwave enter the New Year with no immediate threat to the work they do.

The Long Term Evolution (LTE)-based ESN is planned to ultimately replace the current TETRA-based network. The first stage of an already delayed staged switch-on of the new network was supposed to happen in September 2017 but the U.K. Home Office said a nine-month delay could be extended even longer.

“Although the three-year government contract for the new system, which was awarded to EE, is already running, it’s clearly the case that the new network is not yet ready,” said CWA Assistant Secretary John East. “A major hurdle is ensuring network coverage across the whole of the U.K., including in existing mobile ‘not spots.’ Add to that the problems of ensuring priority for emergency services and continuity of coverage on a public network.

“When the rollout to the system does commence it will be done in a phased way — first one fire or ambulance service will go live and only once the technology is proven will the main rollout begin. The really crucial test will be one of the big metropolitan police services — and you can be sure that they won’t be the first to try out the new system.”

Motorola Solutions acquired the Airwave network in 2015.

“… So whereas we were very worried about the future of Airwave when the government served notice on the emergency services contract, especially prior to its acquisition by Motorola, at the moment there’s no indication whatsoever that the work currently conducted by our members will disappear anytime soon,” East said. “On top of that, our members at Airwave now know they are part of a much larger company which has many other contracts, providing other potential workstreams down the line.”

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