ESN transition delayed
Written by: Sam Fenwick | Published:

The transition of the emergency services from the Airwave TETRA network to the Emergency Services Network (ESN) has been delayed. The first of the user organisations (the North West region) to transition was due to start in September 2017. However, according to a document seen by Land Mobile, the Emergency Services Mobile Communications Programme (ESMCP) has changed the date for ESN to become service-ready to October 2017.

It states: “This [October 2017] is when all elements of ESN will be tested and ready for the emergency service users to start major operational trials. We anticipate that these trials will take between two and five months,” the document states. “Once agreed, this change will mean that emergency services organisations’ transition to the new network will now begin at the earliest in December 2017, which is three months later than currently planned.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “...ESN will help keep people safe and provide the dedicated teams who work so hard protecting the public and saving lives with the most advanced communications system of its kind anywhere in the world.

“We are committed to rolling out ESN and completing transition to the new network as soon as possible, and when acceptable to the emergency services.”

“To make sure this happens, we have rigorously reviewed the programme with suppliers to make sure our plan is achievable.” They could not confirm or deny reports from other media outlets that the North West region’s transition will be delayed until March 2018.

However, a source with knowledge of the matter said: “[The North West region is] saying [that] with their own internal processes of procurement, there’s no way they can meet the transition timetable, so even if the system is ready end of next year, it would still take them longer than it looks at the moment to transition themselves.”

ESMCP has held an event in the North West region looking at transition readiness, and this produced a detailed timeline for the region’s transition. According to the document seen by Land Mobile, elements in this timeline will be discussed in the coming weeks and the resulting plan will be discussed at a meeting on 1 November.

The Home Office has detailed contingency plans in place and the Government has extended all Airwave contracts to 31 December 2019. Should it be necessary to extend contracts beyond that point, it has agreed a fixed monthly price for doing.

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