The UK Government may have announced the end of austerity, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t still savings that can be made by public bodies. In fact, police forces in the UK will now benefit from a national Airwave procurement framework which could potentially lead to huge savings in the long term.
The Police ICT Company, the firm set up to manage technology used by forces across the country, has announced that it has awarded the national Airwave terminal procurement framework contract to Motorola Solutions and Sepura plc. This will provide a single place for forces up and down the country to procure Tetra (Terrestrial Trunked Radio) devices and accessories, all of which utilise the Airwave network.
It’s unsurprising to see Motorola Solutions nab the contract, after all the firm owns Airwave Solutions, the operator of the UK’s Airwave network. This network is used by the UK’s emergency services and is meant to be more reliable than the consumer networks, although there have been teething issues over the years.
While the new framework is being managed by the Police ICT Company, there’s nothing stopping other emergency services from using it. That means that the potential for savings could be huge. The framework has been specifically designed for the police, however, and is all part of an effort to standardise spending across the country – rather than allowing forces to spend vastly different amounts on the same technology.
Police ICT Company CEO, Ian Bell, said, “This is excellent news for the police service and its public sector partners, who will also have access to the framework, ensuring full price transparency and lowest cost across the supply chain over the course of the framework agreement.
“In addition to the clear and immediate benefits of significant efficiencies and discounts to forces, the fact that the Company will manage the contract with Motorola and Sepura on their behalf will help streamline governance, reduce collective contract management burden and drive commonality.”
Despite the deployment of this new framework, Airwave isn’t destined for this world. In fact, it was initially scheduled to have been shut down in 2019, although that has since been pushed back thanks to problems with its successor, the 4G Emergency Services Network. The £1.2 billion network development run by EE was supposed to begin operation in 2017 but has been dogged with problems; it is now both over budget and behind schedule. The UK Government has since confirmed that it will be rolled out in stages, with the first deployment of the technology scheduled for January 2019.
That doesn’t mean this new framework isn’t good news for the short term. The average handheld Tetra device costs around £1,300, while this national procurement plan could bring that cost down further. It will also enable forces replace their outdated technology, although it won’t help speed up data speeds – which are notoriously bad on the Airwave network.
Fergus Mayne, Motorola Solutions´ sales director for UK and Ireland, said: “We are pleased to be part of the National Airwave Terminal Framework contract with the Police ICT Company to provide police forces with a very competitive offering of a wide range of devices and solutions for their mission-critical communications needs, including handheld, mobile and covert digital radio terminal options. Our portfolio is designed for the specific needs of police forces.”