Home Office awards ESN smartphone contract to Samsung Electronics
Written by: Sam Fenwick | Published:

(Updated) The Home Office has awarded a contract for the supply of smartphones and related accessories for use on the Emergency Services Network (ESN)

The Home Office said that: “The contract is for three years with the option of a further extension by one year. The procurement advertised a potential spend of £210m over the term of the contract, and up to 250,000 devices.”

The key words here are "up to". The contact award is for the supply of devices and accessories under a framework agreement (see the original contract notice here) and Land Mobile understands that the terms of the agreement mean that there is no commitment on the volume of devices that are to be purchased under the framework agreement by individual police forces and it is not mandatory for the forces to procure using the framework. The only devices that will be centrally procured by the Home Office under the framework are 1,500 – to be used during major operational trials – and as Samsung is the only supplier on this framework, it will supply all 1,500 of these devices to the Home Office.

According to Samsung, the smartphone model it will supply is “fully optimised for the emergency environment” and will have a rugged, water resistant, design and will have hardware and software features that will support emergency services functionality and critical voice services.

The new network will replace the current Airwave TETRA network, which as a narrowband technology supports mission-critical voice and Short Data Service (SDS). ESN will provide mobile broadband data services based on LTE, allowing a range of additional capabilities for frontline staff such as live-streaming video, crime prevention applications and location services, while still delivering mission critical voice communication.

The Home Office states that ESN will be a more capable, more flexible and more affordable communications network than the Airwave mobile radio system used by the emergency services in England, Scotland and Wales.

Suk-Jea Hahn, executive vice president of Samsung Electronics' Global Mobile B2B Team said: “We are excited to be part of the UK ESN project, and awarded the contract to supply LTE smartphones and accessories for ESN in the UK. Next-generation public safety communications is an important area of focus for Samsung, and we are now looking forward to working in partnership with ESN and UK emergency services organisations to bring our technology to the entire public safety community on the front line, supporting the great work they do every day.”

Responding to a request for a comment on the decision, a spokesperson for device manufacturer Motorola Solutions - which is already involved in ESN as the provider of user services - said: "Motorola Solutions decided to withdraw from the procurement process for the Home Office Hand Held Devices framework for the Emergency Services Network Programme. This does not impact our commitment to the delivery of Lot 2 for the ESN.

"We remain fully committed to providing devices for the wider ESN market and plan to introduce a new LTE device to the UK market place in Q2, 2018."

Land Mobile understands that Motorola Solutions withdrew from bidding for the framework because it wanted to retain control over its own product development.

The Emergency Services Mobile Communications Programme (ESMCP) is managing the transition from Airwave to ESN, alongside regional emergency services user groups. The new network will consist of a “highly resilient dedicated core network” from EE, which will use EE’s existing 4G sites, together with additional sites being built by EE for the programme and those being built under separate contacts for the Extended Area Services sub-programme.

A statement from the Home Office reads as follows: "The Home Office has awarded a contract for the supply of 4G handheld mobile devices and accessories to Samsung Electronics that can be used for the Emergency Services Network.

“Using a single ESN 4G device is more effective, efficient and less costly than using a combination of the existing Airwave devices and multiple commercial networks and standard 4G devices.”

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