EE seeks spectrum licence changes for emergency services network

Abstract photo of a crime scene

EE requested changes to two of its spectrum licences to enable it to provide mobile communications services to emergency service providers in the UK.

The move is related to a contract that the BT-owned mobile operator signed with the UK government in 2015 to provide mobile services for a new emergency services network.

To support this service, EE has now asked for a variation of its 2100 MHz spectrum licence to liberalise its use from 3G and permit the use of 4G technology in the unpaired frequencies 1899.9-1909.9 MHz.

It has also requested a variation of its 800 MHz and 1800 MHz licences to provide a backhaul path to connect mobile base stations to be used by the emergency services in the 1899.9-1909.9 MHz band.

Ofcom has now opened a consultation on the requests, with feedback to be submitted by Sept. 30, 2016. The UK regulator said its current view is that granting the requests “would benefit citizens and consumers, with low risk of harmful interference to other stakeholders.”

EE is contracted to provide a resilient national mobile network as part of the UK government’s £1 billion (€1.16 billion/$1.3 billion) Emergency Services Mobile Communications Programme (ESMCP).

That deal will require the operator to support emergency services in rural areas and already requires the construction of 500 new sites. In order to deliver the emergency services network, EE pledged to invest more than its existing commitment to spend £1.5 billion on its network up to 2017.

UK consumers are also set to benefit from the expansion of the network to support emergency services. In April Marc Allera, CEO of EE, acknowledged that today's mobile consumers are increasingly demanding 4G in order to access services on smartphones and tablets.

"Customers want 4G speeds everywhere they go, and mobile operators are too used to saying 'no' to new coverage. Today, I'm saying 'yes', with an ambition to go further than any operator has ever gone, and with the ultimate aim of covering the whole UK with 4G," Allera said.

EE has already pledged to cover 95 per cent of the UK landmass with its 4G network by 2020 in an effort to reduce the number of mobile broadband "not spots" around the country.

For more:
- see the Ofcom consultation documents

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