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UK Home Office Embraces Interworking on ESN – The Critical Communications Review

Source: The Critical Communications Review | Gert Jan Wolf editor
Efforts to replace the Airwave TETRA network with a new Emergency Services Network (ESN) may be gaining momentum.

A few months ago, the Public Accounts Committee of the House of Commons questioned the likelihood of the project’s success. However, funding appears to be accumulating now, allowing the endeavor to proceed. The government views 4G as a means to “give first responders immediate access to life-saving data, images, and information in real-time and emergency situations on the frontline.”
For instance, the Home Office announced last week that it had hired PA Consulting to help defend the new network from computer attacks. The £6-7 million, two-year contract will now include two requests for proposals for essential ESN components. The first is a project worth £160,000 to build an ESN TETRA/MCX Interworking Gateway Solution. This is being done by the Emergency Services Mobile Communications Programme (ESMCP), which is in charge of the project. Particularly, the Home Office desires software development services to bridge the divide between existing emergency networks and the ESN.
During the switch to ESN, users of Emergency Services must be able to keep in touch with each other using a key transitional technical answer called “Interworking.”  Interworking will let people in a talk group on the old TETRA system talk to people in a similar group on the new ESN system, and vice versa. Now, ESMCP wants to hear what the market has to say about a possible £15m procurement for the sale of an Interworking Gateway Product and related services.
It is expected that later this month, ESMCP will put out a Request for Information so that suppliers can reply and join discussions about their current and possible solutions for a Gateway and services. It’s still early, but ESMCP has also said that it wants to hear from providers about a possible £13.6 million MCX (Mission Critical Communications) Standalone Dispatcher and related services. 
The contract letter isn’t likely to come out before the middle of January 2024, at the earliest.
Image by: murray under creative commons
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