ESMCP: ESN review didn’t pull any punches
Written by: Land Mobile | Published:

Becca Jones, Emergency Services Network customer engagement director at ESMCP, has given an update on the programme following its recent comprehensive review, indicating that potentially bringing the project to an end was indeed part of the discussion.

Speaking at the BAPCO satellite series event currently taking place in Newcastle, she described the review as "really not pulling any punches," and saying that there "was a point earlier this year when I genuinely thought the programme might be closed."

Regarding device to device communication, she said that a proof of concept demonstration of 4G LTE ProSe had taken place in October. "If ProSe is not acceptable or available in the timescales which we require it," said Jones, "there will be an alternative solution. Possibly based on TETRA direct mode [operation (DMO)]."

Jones also discussed possible solutions for emergency services aircraft, including an apparent current debate around the possibility of relying on ground-based 4G rather than installing an "expensive air to ground network."

She said that roll-out will be based firmly around standardised technology, something which was not possible at the beginning.

Preferred solutions, Jones said, will be commercial and "off the shelf" rather than bespoke, with the previous emphasis on the latter having made the project more complicated than it needed to be. This decision was made, in part, following Motorola Solutions' purchase of Kodiak.

She added that the much-discussed "incremental delivery" which will offer public safety users the option of a data-first approach in lieu of mission critical push to talk, will be "at the heart of delivery going forward."

The programme has initially defined eight tools and products, through discussions with customers and suppliers. These include:

  • ESN Assure, which will allow users to measure coverage in their area and feed the results back to the programme and is soon to be launched
  • ESN Connect, a sim-only data service (which will provide fast, secure and reliable data connectivity for vehicles, and allow other devices to tether and connect over the network), that will follow soon after ESN Assure
  • ESN Direct, which will provide the first push-to-talk functionality and will also arrive at the turn of the year.
  • ESN Prime, the product that will meet "meet the most stringent user requirements" and is expected to be available from mid-2020. Full roll out of the solution will follow and the programme expects this to be complete by the end of 2022 to mid-2023.

There will also be ESN Connect Plus, ESN Air, ESN Innovate and ESN Prime Plus. The BAPCO Newcastle event concludes today (8 November).

Further reading
ESMCP invites tenders for £100m air-to-ground contract
Emergency Services Network testing gets under way
ESN looking to quickly switch to open standards

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