Twelve Emergency Services Network sites have advanced to “build stage” after receiving the go-ahead, with the long-term goal of improving and expanding coverage. In this article we take a look at the EAS project and how emergency services are already realising the benefits of 4G LTE.
The new national Emergency Services Network (ESN) has been scheduled to replace the existing Airwave Tetra network, to provide critical services such as fire, ambulance and police, as well as utility services, local authorities and other first responders with upgraded coverage, greater flexibility and more reliable connectivity.
The deployment of the Emergency Services Network (ESN) will leverage the current 4G LTE network, but to maximise coverage in harder to reach places, investments are being made in more rural areas, and areas that require special coverage such as road tunnels and railway facilities (including the London Underground). In order to extend coverage to these rural areas within the UK, approximately 292 EAS (Extended Area Service) sites will be built. A secondary objective for the EAS project will be to support wider government policy of improving cellular coverage, meaning some EAS masts will be built to facilitate commercial coverage for multiple mobile network operators as well as the ESN.
12 new EAS (Extended Area Services) project sites have recently progressed to build stage, with a further 194 new build sites also expected. In addition, 18 sites will be shared with other mobile network operators and around 80 with Airwave. Testing in specific areas such as the London Underground have also begun, with a 4G pilot test taking place in the underground tunnels to ensure maximum coverage for the emergency services in the event of an incident.
4G LTE and Emergency Services Today
While the Emergency Services Network will see all emergency communications shift to 4G LTE, many services are already reaping the benefits of cellular networking. Emergency services rely heavily on the ability to access accurate information so they can respond swiftly and efficiently to a situation. To support this, services are leveraging 4G LTE routing solutions to deploy rapid WiFi hotspots in and around vehicles, so teams can connect to central systems from the field. As well as providing them with access to the information they need, such solutions also allow teams to update system information from the field, saving them valuable time. In addition to providing a mobile WiFi hotspot, leading routing solutions can connect other applications such as in-vehicle and body worn cameras, real-time location services, asset tracking and more.
To ensure a highly reliable connection for these critical applications, routers with failover features can also provide teams with an additional layer of reliability, connecting to a secondary cellular service or even satellite if and when needed – maximising connectivity resilience.
What Will ESN Enable?
Once ESN is fully functional and operating, and all sites have been built across the country to maximise coverage, these existing solutions will become even more beneficial. Enabling an improved overview and management of operations, ESN will re-align and bolster current networking solutions, overall improving response times and reducing cost.
For router and gateway solutions to run on the ESN network, devices must be tested and approved to ensure they meet the primary communication requirements for the emergency services. To date, Cradlepoint’s COR IBR1700 and IBR900 were the first 4G LTE in-vehicle routers to be certified for use on ESN, and are already commonly found within emergency service fleets due to their advanced cloud solution support (NetCloud) and ability to connect to an array of in-vehicle devices. In addition to these, Cradlepoint’s new CAT 18 version of the IBR1700, which will deliver gigabit LTE, is due later this year and has been designed as an ESN-ready device. Sierra Wireless’ popular AirLink MP70 and MG90 devices are also ESN-ready and currently undergoing the approval process.
Westbase.io work with our channel partners to deliver in-vehicle solutions to emergency services that improve their on-the-road capabilities. We represent the leading vendors in this market and have extensive experience of deploying in-vehicle solutions, having connected many 1000s of emergency service vehicles. We are committed to enabling our customers to continue their communications investments by delivering solutions which can be upgraded in the field. This means that services can take advantage of the benefits of cellular networking today, while easily being able to connect to the Emergency Services Network when it becomes available without having to completely replace their solution.
To find out more take a look at our emergency services solutions pages or our dedicated in-vehicle connectivity and ESN page. You can also contact a member of our team on +44 (0) 1291 437 567 or email@example.com.