The UK has taken some bold steps and will be the first country in the world to move away from TETRA, the current critical communications infrastructure used by the emergency services around the world, replacing it with a 4G enabled service by EE, known as ESN (Emergency Services Network).
At present, the Police, Fire and Ambulance department (among others) use an incredibly resilient, well covered network known as TETRA, a service by Airwave which is basically a 2-way radio system. TETRA, albeit tried, tested and very reliable, has little to no capability for data i.e. video streaming, wearable tech, IoT applications etc etc, all of which are a huge advantage to the emergency services. For instance, the ability for first responders to live stream video to a doctor to give advice at the scene of an accident; this feature could literally save lives, time and money, so this a great service our country is pioneering to the benefit of our nation.
We do however have a very big task on our hands of providing 4G coverage across the entire country, something which at present, we do not have. So where will EE be providing coverage?
“EE will provide ESN coverage along major and minor roads, selected buildings, road tunnels and railway facilities, as well as 12 miles out to sea and up to 500 feet above the ground. EE’s delivery of ESN incorporates coverage improvements to their existing commercial 4G network via a programme of site upgrades.” Credit – The Home Office https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-emergency-services-mobile-communications-programme/emergency-services-network
From our perspective, we see there is a great deal of education required within the real estate industry around the subject of ESN, mainly being, if your building or campus has issues with 4G connectivity, the Police, Fire and Ambulance department will have no means of communicating within your site which is of course not just a matter of health and safety, but national security. Sky Scrapers, University Campuses, Colleges, Hospitals, Residential and Commercial buildings all have a potential risk that requires deep consideration into the future of their estate, whether they be in a phase of planning, development or existing as to what there in-building cellular coverage strategy is, who you work with and how to implement a solution cost effectively and efficiently.
If you’re a property developer, landlord, occupier or facilities management company, when planning your in-building mobile coverage strategy, it’s important to look at the market carefully and identify a technology capable of not only delivering a multi-operator solution (EE, O2, Vodafone, Three) but to incorporate the new ESN. There are many, very well-known Distributed Antenna System (DAS) and Small Cell vendors with equipment being deployed today that do not have the capability or frequency range to deliver ESN, which is going to use 800Mhz and 1800Mhz.
Given the ‘wideband’ nature of our managed service whereby our DAS can deliver all frequency ranges between 150Mhz and 2.7Ghz, Spectrum Infrastructure are in a very strong position to deliver the new Emergency Services Network as there is no upgrade required our platform to incorporate the 1800Mhz and 800Mhz ranges. All we require is the appropriate 4G radio source from EE to be plugged into our infrastructure which will then radiate ESN alongside any other cellular services required.
For Spectrum, this is a hot topic and an area of focus, so you’ll see us speaking at a number of Real Estate events throughout 2019 to help guide property professionals through this new era of critical communications.