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UK emergency services still awaiting final technical specs for ESN devices

UK Home Office says user requirements and technical specifications for handheld devices will be issued in ‘due course’; direct mode operations solution due out ‘later this year’

UK emergency services still awaiting final technical specs for ESN devices

Suppliers and end users are still awaiting final specifications from the Home Office relating to handheld device form factors and the user interface on the new 4G Emergency Services Network (ESN).

In reply to a question from Wireless on the matter a Home Office spokesperson emailed: ‘The user requirements and technical specification for handheld devices that will provide device suppliers with the information required to determine the Emergency Services Network form factor and user interface will be issued in due course.’

Wireless also asked whether a solution had been agreed for direct mode, or device to device communication (where radios communicate directly with each other without using the network) – a key functionality found on the TETRA two-way radios currently used by the emergency services.

The Home Office said: ‘The user requirements and technical specification for direct mode will be issued later this year. There are several ways this can be delivered as an ancillary item or built into the Emergency Services Network device before the open standards solution is available.’

The direct mode application is particular useful for personnel when they are inside buildings where the network signal is poor or non-existent. Fire crews also use it a lot at incidents as most of their communication is with each other at the scene. However, the functionality does not exist on the 4G LTE open standard, although an early specification was included in 3GPP LTE Release 13 this year.

The Home Office recently (17 August 2016) issued a revised Prior Information Notice in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) to notify the industry and emergency services that it will not be using a Dynamic Purchasing System for the procurement of ESN certified devices.

The types of device categories (including vehicles) are as follows:

• Handheld devices – standard, ruggedised, single and dual mode LTE/TETRA devices
• Specialist – direct device to device communications
• Active accessories – cases and device carriage on clothing
• Potentially vehicles devices – vehicle (4+wheels) ESN modems, devices and gateway vehicles; vehicles (2 wheels) ESN devices and waterborne ESN devices
• Vehicle accessories
• Potentially vehicle installation design and implementation
• Potentially managed services
• Unified – any combination of the other categories.

There is a requirement for 1,500 production standard trials devices of various types for operational trials and pilots starting in mid-2017. These trial devices will be procurement incrementally, using the Dynamic Purchasing System (for more on DPS see story here).

The HO expects the three emergency services will require circa. 300,000 ‘production standard devices’ with the first procurement starting in the second quarter of 2017, prior to the start of the first regional transition, the North West region, in September 2017.

12 regions will transition in a staggered manner with each taking up to 12 months to complete. The transition period is expected to last up to 27 months in total and should be completed by 31 December 2019.

See also:


Awards for UK’s ESN Extended Area Services contracts expected soon


EE applies for 4G licence variations to support Emergency Services Network mobile gateways


UK Home Office revises purchasing strategy for Emergency Services Network devices


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