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UK's national Airwave terminal procurement framework awarded to Motorola and Sepura

Emergency services need Tetra devices for at least three more years thanks to 4G delays

Motorola Solutions and Sepura are to build a centrally managed procurement framework for the UK's radio network, Airwave.

The framework will be managed by the Police ICT Company – which was set up to help manage cops' tech and into which all forces pay an operating fee – but can be used by other public sector entities.

It will provide a single place to procure the Tetra (Terrestrial Trunked Radio) devices and accessories that are used by the emergency services over the radio network Airwave.

The Police ICT Company said the framework would keep costs for the supply of Tetra devices down and be fully compliant with public contract regulations. The aim is part of efforts to standardise management of forces' spending, and means individual forces don't have to let and re-let standalone contracts.

British Transport Police cop. Pic: Gordon Joly

Cops' IT too complex for quick and dirty revamp – Police ICT boss


"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," said Police ICT Company CEO Ian Bell.

The creation of the framework for cops to refresh their Airwave radios comes as the government is struggling to implement a replacement for the now dated technology.

The project to create a £1.2bn 4G Emergency Services Network (ESN), to be run by EE, has been under way for three years, but has run into repeated and major delays.

Most recently, the government admitted it would have to extend the lifespan of Airwave beyond the planned 2019 shutdown date.

The Home Office said it planned to sign a new contract with Motorola to run the network until 31 December 2022 at a cost of £1.1bn.

This is delaying the planned savings of the scheme – devices on the 4G network should cost about £500 less a year – and pushing costs onto the emergency services as they now face replacing end-of-life devices before the ESN is rolled out. ®

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