Motorola CEO Says 4-Year Extension of Airwave Likely, Discusses U.K. Investigation Details
Wednesday, December 01, 2021 | Comments

Motorola Solutions CEO Greg Brown discussed an extension for its Airwave contract with the U.K. Home Office and a U.K. investigation into its dual roles in Airwave network and the Emergency Services Network (ESN) project during an appearance at the Credit Suisse conference November 30.

“So, the Airwave contract runs through all of next year,” Brown said. “The customer has indicated they want a four-year extension. We will work with them, of course, on extending that four years.”

Airwave currently provides critical communications services to first responders around the U.K. The ESN is intended to take the place of the Airwave network to provide next-generation communications for the U.K. emergency services, but has experienced major delays.

In 2016, Motorola was named a supplier on the ESN project and two months later bought the Airwave network. At the time, the U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) approved Motorola’s purchase of the Airwave network because of the impending transition from the Airwave network to the ESN, which was expected to occur in 2019.

However, earlier this year, because of the continued delays in the ESN transition, the CMA launched a consultative review into Motorola’s roles as both the owner of the Airwave network and a supplier on the ESN project.

Following that review, the CMA decided to launch a third-party investigation into the matter. The CMA expressed concern that because of its roles in both projects, Motorola would have an incentive to delay the ESN project to increase it profits.

“The CMA did a consultative review that has led to a market investigation,” Brown said. “Once you start a consultative review, it is more common than not that it leads to a market investigation. I think they are primarily interested in the pricing levels of Airwave and the fact that we, Motorola Solutions, also participate in the ESN. They, the CMA, want to be sure that we’re doing everything we’re obligated to do on the ESN, which we are and that we’re charging reasonably with Airwave.”

The investigation is expected to continue through the summer of 2022 and then the CMA will announce if any remediation is necessary.

“We’re engaged with the CMA, we continue to be engaged in the U.K. Home Office,” Brown said. “We’re investing significant amounts of capital and continue to do that on Airwave to keep it modernized, complete, competitive and performing at the superior service levels we’ve delivered so far.”

In response to a question about whether or not he thinks that the ESN network will be viable in two-to-three years, Brown pointed out the fact that the U.K. Home Office is looking for an extension to the ESN contract.

“I think the fact that they’re already engaged in extending Airwave four years, and they’ve been pretty public about that, is a proxy for the admission of the criticality of what Airwave does … I think we all know that Airwave needs to stay for several years longer,” Brown said.

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