THE UK'S EMERGENCY SERVICES will soon be armed with, er, Samsung smartphones after the firm landed a £210m contract to supply 250,000 handsets to police, paramedics and fire crews.
The Home Office awarded Samsung the three-year contract this week, which will see the firm supply toughened, water-resistant 4G devices to the emergency services.
These smartphones will offer both hardware and software features that will support emergency services functionality and critical voice services, according to Samsung, including a "push to talk" button to allow users to communicate instantly without having to dial a phone number.
Samsung reportedly won out against rival bids from Motorola Solutions and Sepura, a British specialist in emergency services communications.
A Home Office spokesman confirmed the deal with Samsung ain a statement, saying: "Using a single ESN 4G device is more effective, efficient and less costly than using a combination of the existing Airwave devices and multiple commercial networks and standard 4G devices."
Suk-Jea Hahn, executive vice president of Samsung's global Mobile B2B Team, added: "We are excited to be part of the UK ESN project and awarded the contract to supply LTE smartphones and accessories for ESN in the UK.
"Next-generation public safety communications is an important area of focus for Samsung, and we are now looking forward to working in partnership with ESN and UK emergency services organisations to bring our technology to the entire public safety community on the front line, supporting the great work they do every day."
The Samsung contract is part of the redevelopment of the ESN network costing £1.2bn, which will see the replacement of the current Airwave system with a new system based on EE's mobile network.
This first-of-its-kind system is designed to allow the emergency services to access the internet in the field, enabling police to feed back live video, paramedics to gain instant access to patient records and fire crews to download building blueprints before they tackle a blaze.
The current Airwave system will be phased out in stages from 2020.
Motorola Solutions has been in touch to let us know that it withdrew from the procurement process so was not part of the group that submitted a bid.
"Motorola Solutions decided to withdraw from the procurement process for the Home Office Hand Held Devices framework for the Emergency Services Network Programme," a spokesperson said.
"This does not impact our commitment to the delivery of ‘Lot 2' for the ESN. We remain fully committed to providing devices for the wider ESN market and plan to introduce a new LTE device to the UK marketplace in Q2-2018." µ
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