U.K. Authority Officially Launches Investigation into Motorola Airwave, ESN Involvement
Monday, October 25, 2021 | Comments

The U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority announced that an independent group will investigate Motorola Solutions’ dual roles as the owner of the Airwave network and a contractor on the new Emergency Services Network (ESN).

In July, the CMA conducted a consultation into whether or not it should open an investigation into Motorola’s roles in both networks. Airwave currently provides police, fire and emergency medical services (EMS) with communications, the U.K. government plans to transition all those services to the next-generation ESN.

“The CMA is concerned that the market for the supply of the mobile radio network used by all emergency services in Great Britain might not be working well, resulting in a more expensive service for customers and, ultimately, the taxpayers,” a CMA press release said.

The CMA said that it is concerned about what it called insufficient information, including on projects and costs need to maintain and refresh the current network, being provided to the U.K. Home Office during negotiations about the pricing of the Airwave network.

“As a result of this, and the importance of the Airwave network for public safety in Great Britain, the Home Office is in a weak bargaining position and unable to secure value for money,” the press release said.

Additionally, the CMA said that because of Motorola’s dual role in both communications projects, Motorola would have an incentive “to delay or shape the roll-out of the ESN to its advantage” because of the profits it makes from the Airwave network.

The original service agreement for the Airwave network was supposed to end in December 2019. However, the transition of emergency services to the ESN has been delayed multiple times for various reasons, and U.K. Home Office officials expect the Airwave network to provide services to first responders until about 2025.

In a statement, Motorola said it strongly believes that an investigation is not warranted.

“We have provided financial transparency throughout this project, including audited, statutory financial statements, detailed reviews of CAPEX and spend, and financial plans for the Airwave network,” Motorola’s statement said. “The Airwave service delivers exceptional value for the money for the U.K. taxpayer. Motorola Solutions has provided price reductions even while making significant investments to maintain the network, which is relied upon by the U.K. emergency services every day and continues to function at the highest levels. We reject the assertion that we have an incentive to delay the implementation of the ESN. In fact, we continue to deliver on our commitments and invest heavily in the ESN program and its launch remains our key priority for the benefit of public-safety professionals and citizens across the country. This is a contractual matter between the Home Office and Motorola Solutions and this investigation threatens the principles of long-term government contracting in the U.K.”

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