EE and Nokia are to build the “world’s first” 4G-enabled air-to-ground (A2G) network to support the UK’s Emergency services Network (ESN).
The A2G infrastructure will support up to 300,000 emergency services staff by connecting sensors, aircraft and helicopters to the ground-based LTE network. A range of between 500 feet and 10,000 feet above the ground is promised.
EE will provide active network equipment for a reference facility before staging a seven site trial across North Wales and London. This will allow partners to test the hardware and software capabilities, as well as deployment models across different terrain.
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EE 4G ESN
Once testing has been completed, EE will deploy the necessary kit at 80 Home Office cell sites, with Nokia also providing support, equipment and installations services.
“Our deployment of this reinforces our network leadership as the UK’s biggest and fastest mobile network, and harnesses Nokia’s deep expertise in network equipment and installation of an Air-to-Ground solution,” says Richard Harrap, Managing Director of ESN at EE.
“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,” added Cormac Whelan, CEO UK & Ireland at Nokia.
EE won a £1 billion contract in 2015 to build more than 400 new sites and to develop a core system to support the ESN, which will provide emergency services with data-rich applications and generate significant savings.
A report last year from the National Audit Office suggested the ESN could cost the government £3.1 billion more than planned and that a 2022 launch was still too ambitious.