The Home Office has published a tender for a new emergency services network (ESN) for telecommunication services worth between £666 million and £1.46 billion, depending on the take-up of the service.
Under the contract, which intends to be more "cost-effective" than the existing Airwave arrangements, suppliers will be required to deliver integrated voice, broadband data and mobile communications services to all three emergency services and other users in England, Wales and Scotland.
The three emergency services currently comprise about 250,000 operational staff, with a broadly equivalent number of connected mobile communication devices, 44 police and crime commissioners or services, 50 fire and rescue services, 13 ambulance trusts, the National Crime Agency, British Transport Police, Ministry of Defence Police and the Civil Nuclear Constabulary and the National Police Air Service.
Other potential users of the new ESN include the over 400 government and other bodies that use the current system, which may add up to 50,000 additional connected devices.
Voice and broadband services are currently provided to the emergency services under existing contracts with Airwave, which partners with a number of other suppliers in the industry.
These contracts are due to expire between 2016 and 2020, during which time network services will be transitioned to the new ESN.
At present, the scope of the contract covers 112 emergency services organisations and more than 400 other user organisations, which involves around 45,000 vehicles and 300,000 users.
Four lots will be up for grabs. In the first lot, the Home Office is looking for an ESN delivery partner to provide programme management services for cross-lot ESN integration. The lot value is between £72 million and £114 million over five and a half years, with options to extend for a maximum of a further 18 months.
As part of lot two, the government is looking for a technical service integrator to provide end-to-end systems integration for the ESN and to provide the necessary telecommunications infrastructure.
The contract period for lot two is for up to six years, with an option to extend for a maximum of up to a further two years, with a value of between £144 million and £294 million.
Under the third lot, valued at between £240 million and £636 million over five and a half years, the Home Office is looking to appoint a network operator to create a resilient mobile network.
Meanwhile, the fourth lot aims to enable the lot three supplier to extend coverage beyond its mobile network. Its value is between £210 million and £420 million over 15 years, with an optional break point at seven years.
The ESN is being delivered by the Emergency Services Mobile Communications Programme (ESMCP), which is a cross-government, multi-agency programme sponsored by the Home Office.
The new service contracts are expected to be awarded during 2015, with service delivery to start from late 2016, as existing service contracts begin to expire.