New concerns around the Government's Huawei ban for 5G and how it could impact the Emergency Services Network programme for blue light emergency services, which ensures they can talk to each other during any incident, have been raised by the London Assembly Fire, Resilience and Emergency Planning Committee today.
The Emergency Services Network programme is set to change radically the way emergency services communicate with each other across the country by replacing the current outdated Airwave radio system based on existing 4G mobile data. The programme, overseen by the Home Office, already has a predicted overspend of £3.1 billion and a delay to completion from 2017 to 2022.
On top of that, the Emergency Services Network will retain the use of Huawei technology, which will need replacing soon, so there is a risk that the programme is based on technology with a short lifespan and security concerns.
The Chair of the Fire, Resilience and Emergency Planning Committee has written to the London Fire Brigade to ask what reassurance they have had from Government on the potential impact and implications on the Emergency Services Network without Huawei.
Andrew Dismore AM, Chair of the Fire, Resilience and Emergency Planning Committee said:
"The Government's Huawei ban in 5G infrastructure in the UK potentially has serious implications for the Emergency Services Network upgrade. The London Fire Brigade needs to be open and transparent about the potential impact it will have on cost, timeframes, safety and security.
"A change of this magnitude within emergency communications needs to be handled extremely carefully and the Committee needs frank reassurance that Huawei's 5G ban will not adversely affect the Emergency Services Network programme.
"The Emergency Services Network is already over budget and late. Lives cannot be put at risk and the Government needs to work closely with the London Fire Brigade and other emergency services to work through any potential impact and delay to this programme."