The first contract to provide a replacement communications system for the emergency services has been awarded to Kellogg Brown & Root Limited (KBR), the Home Office has announced.
KBR successfully bid for Lot 1 and will now become the delivery partner for the Emergency Services Mobile Communications Programme (ESMCP), starting work immediately.
Minister for Policing, Crime, Criminal Justice and Victims Mike Penning welcomed the progress made towards giving the UK’s emergency services a modern communications network.
"We are determined that our goal to provide the UK’s emergency services with the best communications network in the world is implemented as quickly as possible and I am delighted that I can now announce we have awarded the first contract. We remain on course to sign further contracts later this year," he said.
"Making sure our emergency services have the best tools to help them do their job is paramount. As well as offering the emergency services much more capacity, flexibility and functionality than the old system, the new network will also save the taxpayer well over £1bn over the next 15 years."
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The new services will replace the existing system from mid-2017 as the current contracts expire. The Emergency Services Network will use a commercial network to deliver broadband data services. The current service, Airwave, is delivered using a private mobile radio system.
KBR is a major international operator specialising in technology-driven engineering, procurement and construction, and is a market leader in the successful programme management and delivery of large infrastructure schemes.
Negotiations with the preferred bidders for the remaining contracts – Motorola (Lot 2) and EE (Lot 3) are continuing and contract awards are expected in the autumn.
ESMCP is a Home Office-led, cross-departmental programme set up to provide cheaper, better and smarter communications services for the emergency services, called the Emergency Services Network (ESN).
The contracts for the existing emergency services systems provided by Airwave Solutions Ltd will begin to expire in 2017. A replacement service is necessary and re-competition is legally required by the expiry in 2020 of the existing contracts.