EE, Nokia to Build Air-to-Ground Network for ESN
Thursday, February 03, 2022 | Comments

EE, part of BT Group, signed an agreement with Nokia to build an industry-first nationwide 4G LTE air-to-ground network for emergency services across Great Britain.

The new 4G network will enable uninterrupted high-speed broadband coverage for emergency service personnel working above ground from 500 feet up to 10,000 feet. As part of the agreement, EE and Nokia will enable mission-critical network coverage for emergency services that will be the world’s first use case utilizing commercial 4G LTE broadband services in its field.

The LTE air-to-ground network will provide seamless connectivity between ground operations and air, connecting people, sensors, aircraft and helicopters with the highest security and reliability. More than 300,000 emergency service personnel will benefit from the Emergency Services Network (ESN) designed to facilitate uninterrupted coverage allowing emergency services the capability to communicate with their airborne colleagues.

As part of the agreement, EE will provide the active network equipment for a full reference facility, and an initial seven site trial network. Following the trial, EE will deploy the network equipment in more than 80 U.K. Home Office acquired cell sites across the country. Nokia will provide design support, network equipment, installation and commissioning services to ensure timely delivery of the ESN air-to-ground network.

“We’re thrilled to partner with Nokia to build a first-in-class and groundbreaking 4G air-to-ground network for emergency services across the UK,” said Richard Harrap, managing director ESN at EE. “Our deployment of this reinforces our network leadership as the U.K.’s biggest and fastest mobile network, and harnesses Nokia’s deep expertise in network equipment and installation of an air-to-ground solution.”

The first trial of the air-to-ground network will take place over the coming months in North Wales and London, enabling EE, Nokia and the Home Office to test the hardware capability over different terrain along with the hardware deployment process, the software capability and the operational support of the complete air-to-ground service, prior to the roll out of the final air-to-ground network.

“With the help of this first ever air-to-ground network using commercial LTE, emergency services personnel will be able to rely on uninterrupted communications nationwide,” said Cormac Whelan, CEO, U.K. and Ireland at Nokia. “This project and its deployment are a perfect example of the type of innovative solutions Nokia, together with our customers, can provide to the public sector.”

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