Emergency Services Network: Scotland

Home Office written question – answered on 8th April 2019.

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Photo of Kirstene Hair Kirstene Hair Conservative, Angus

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what progress has been made on the cross-government programme to deliver the Emergency Service Network critical communications system in (a) Angus and (b) Scotland.

Photo of Nick Hurd Nick Hurd The Minister of State, Home Department

The Emergency Services Network is being provided primarily to deliver world class critical voice and data to the emergency services to replace the aging and expensive Airwave network.

To provide the necessary coverage for ESN, mobile network operator EE is building over 400 new sites and upgrading its entire existing network to 4G.

Across the whole of Scotland, EE is deploying over 350 sites for the ESN programme, with 277 having been activated to date. The new 4G coverage these sites deliver, in addition to the upgrading of existing masts, will be available to EE’s commercial customers in addition to the emergency services. In Angus, EE has deployed and activated one new site.

For all new sites being built by EE, they are encouraging sharing with the other MNOs through a clear and well-understood industry process, in line with our State Aid requirements. In addition to the new sites being provided by EE, the ESN programme is responsible for providing approximately 300 sites in the most remote and rural areas of Great Britain as part of the Extended Area Service (EAS) project.

Twelve of these EAS sites are planned in Angus and these are composed of nine greenfield sites and three sites shared with the existing Airwave service. Construction is forecast to start on the first greenfield site this month, with a second site in May, followed by three sites beginning construction in June, one in July, two in August and the final one in November.

Across the whole of Scotland 123 EAS sites are planned, including 75 greenfield sites, 30 sites shared with the existing Airwave service, and 18 sites shared with other mobile network operators. Of these 18 shared sites, 11 are proposed as shared sites with the Scottish Government 4G infill programme.

Of the 75 greenfield sites across Scotland, six have now completed construction, and construction is underway on a further 11 sites. The remainder are at various different stages of the necessary planning and legal processes before construction can begin.

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