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Vodafone clarifies its position on the future of the emergency services network

Vodafone has raised the alarm – the Emergency Services Network could be hit by its planned changeover to new masts to make the thing work. It has told the Public Accounts Committee that this could result in a delay to the launch.

The PAC therefore asked Vodafone to explain its continuing role in the new Emergency Services Network from its planned beginning next year. However, the company plans to switch elements of “Airwave” technology, which underpins the current emergency services, in 2020, and this appears not to have been taken into account.

Vodafone operates the masts that support Airwave and it plans to decommission these, which is fine as long as a 4G network has replaced everything by that point. Vodafone, in its statement, made reference to issues surrounding the change in suppliers. This would normally be fine as long as everyone can agree that no delays happen, ever, in technology implementations.

You can see why people would worry.

Working on Emergency Services Network issues

The Public Accounts Committee therefore recalled participants to ask what was going on and what was likely to happen. The aim was to mitigate any delays and reduce the impact on public services. It appears that Motorola alerted the government to the decommissioning of the masts, which is part of Vodafone’s overall modernisation plan.

The PAC is taking a pretty hard line on what’s going on, describing the new Emergency Services Network as an ambitious project based on technology which, frankly, is still under development. It’s therefore unlikely to surprise anyone that there has been some sort of delay to the set-up, and why the need to establish who is going to be offering what is so pressing as the project moves forward. The PAC has suggested that the network will not be ready in time for its projected delivery date of December 2019, which is a huge issue if the existing network is to be switched off.

You can watch the full hearing here.