The latest review of the Emergency Services Network (ESN) project by the parliamentary watchdog found continued unquantified delays, and uncertainty.

  • Technological solutions to a range of challenges are yet to be resolved, with EE involved in discussions around access in difficult environments.
  • While EE was not tarred with blame in the report, the apparent chaos may affect its reputation, and when it gets paid.

The UK parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) held its third hearing in little over a year on the progress of the government’s ESN project, and subsequently highlighted continued significant concern over its progress.

The principal cause of worry does not appear to be the delivery of the network infrastructure from EE, or other supplier contracts, but the management of the process by the Home Office, which is in the midst of a review of the timetable for the service’s introduction after earlier recognition of problems with the rollout (BTwatch, #282).

The following key issues were raised by the PAC during an open committee hearing, and in a subsequent letter to the Home Office:

  • The estimated cost of the project remains up in the air, and the final timeframe for complete implementation is a mystery. In January 2018, the Home Office is expected to complete a full review of the costs and rollout timetable for the ESN and create a new plan, which will then be shared with the PAC. It is anticipated that the schedule will see longer delays than the nine months already acknowledged by the government department. Costs are also expected to rise, at least in part from the expense of maintaining existing communications systems beyond their anticipated shelf-life. EE maintains it is up-to-speed on delivering against its obligations.
  • Motorola Solutions and Vodafone are said to have identified a way for the existing Airwave network to be maintained beyond March 2020 where needed, when Vodafone shuts down the legacy TDM network upon which the network currently relies (BTwatch, #286). It appears that a workaround that will enable Airwave to operate on an IP infrastructure has been identified and commercial discussions are ongoing as to who will be responsible for paying for it between the government and the vendors. The PAC expressed disquiet, however, that technical and commercial details of how this will be achieved remain vague.
  • The Home Office indicated it is happy with progress on bringing ESN coverage to the London Underground, with initial phases of connectivity expected to be completed by end-2018, and the complete infrastructure expected to be in place by March 2019. The PAC was less satisfied, though, where it deemed that the matter had not been managed with sufficient urgency. The London Underground connectivity contract remains separate from EE’s deal to provide coverage across the country, but the mobile operator will be expected to link up other UK metro systems in cities including Glasgow, Liverpool, and Newcastle.
  • As well as underground connectivity, the PAC is worried over ground-to-air links for air ambulances and other similar craft. The Home Office has said it is working with EE on solutions to the challenges that aircraft communications pose, and these will need to be hammered out before current systems can be switched off.

Image: Red Rose Exile/Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0.

Table of Contents

EXECUTIVE BRIEF

GROUP

Digital Britain

BT plans broadband boost in NI [p6]

  • Northern Ireland: facts and figures
  • Ex-BT Italia boss wins £1.6m from employment tribunal
  • Flash of full-fibre inspired by Lightning, while superfast projects still linger
  • Table 1: Revised 900MHz/1800MHz and pre-2015 licence fee rates

Legal and regulatory

EE licence fee appeal sees success [p8]

  • Court of Appeal requires Ofcom to re-think
  • Innovation centre unveiled in NI
  • Compromise may be more appealing than more appeals

DCMS declines BT’s 10Mbps broadband offer [p10]

  • Table 2: People movement highlights

CONSUMER/EE

5G

Huawei and EE 5G plans are in the air… [p14]

  • ASA downplays ‘fibre’ significance for consumers
  • … and 2018 trials have been floated

ESN

PAC places ESN worries at Home Office door [p16]

Samsung wins ESN device deal [p17]

MBNL

Ericsson extends MBNL deal [p18]

Mobile payments

EE boosts carrier billing with Boku [p19]

Network

EE adds time as new dimension to network coverage claims [p20]

  • Clear on Coverage: reigniting a damp squib
  • Slight dent in EE’s network crown?
  • Table 3: EE vs. UK rivals on speed, latency, jitter, and packet loss, Aug-Oct 2017

Pricing and tariffs

BT braces for automatic customer compensation in 2019 [p23]

  • Table 4: Automatic compensation for the people
  • After the consumer is paid, all roads lead to Openreach

BT Consumer increases pricing from January 2018 [p25]

  • Virgin Media delivers backhanded compliment on BT price strategy

Suppliers

Huawei flags EE role in shared small-cell network [p26]

Television services

BT/Sky: Happy Xmas (war is over) [p27]

  • Peace breaks out after lengthy battle
  • A cosy cartel, huddling together against a common enemy?
  • Recognition of a new world order

BUSINESS AND PUBLIC SECTOR

Ireland

BT holds on to 999 contract [p30]

Tesco Mobile voice termination deal extended for two years [p30]

Security

BT adds Symantec device protection to managed security portfolio [p31]

GLOBAL SERVICES

Virtualisation

BT calls for more harmony on virtualisation [p34]

  • BT willing to put in transformational work, but needs help
  • Vendors urged to get with the programme
  • Will BT stick with long-term partners despite flirtations with younger models?
  • McRae not for turning on the automation track

WHOLESALE & VENTURES

BT Media & Broadcast

AWS flags BT media services deal [p38]

BT Payphone

Vodafone takes a dig at BT payphone charges [p39]

OPENREACH

Partnerships

Openreach to boost broadband through Redrow deal [p41]

  • White criticises Openreach fibre proposals
  • New arrangement may help secure more HBF work
  • FTTP rollout in Nottinghamshire

Regulatory

Ofcom puts dark fibre back on the agenda [p43]

Suppliers

Lite Access to support Openreach FTTP rollout in Wales [p44]

FURTHER READING

INDEX

Index

Symbols

21st Century Fox 28
Sky
NOW TV 27, 28
– – Sky Sports 28

A

ADVA Optical Networking 35
Advertising Standards Authority 15, 17
Alphabet
Google
YouTube 18
Amazon 38
Amazon Web Services 38
Elemental 38
Arbor Networks 31

B

Bluman Associates 10
Boku 19
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) 8
Broadband Forum 14, 15, 26
Brompton Technology 10
BT Group 6, 9, 11, 27, 41, 43
BT Business & Public Sector 6
BT Ireland 9, 11
– – BT Northern Ireland 6
BT Consumer 18, 25, 27, 28, 42
BT Infinity 31
– – BT TV 27
– – Plusnet 17
BT Global Services 11, 33, 34
BT Italia 7
– – BT Security 31
BT Technology, Service and Operations 9, 42
Adastral Park 9
BT Tower 10
– BT Wholesale & Ventures
BT Media & Broadcast 38
– – BT Payphones 39
EE 8, 11, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 24, 25, 26, 41
4G Calling 20
– – Emergency Services Network 16, 20
– – MBNL 18
Executives
Allera, Marc 20
– – Chalmers, Sabine 11
– – Fitz, Daniel 11
– – Hindhaugh, Jamie 18
– – Junge, Daniel 11
– – McRae, Neil 36
– – Parr, Ian 38
– – Patel, Mahesh 11
– – Patterson, Conor 11
– – Patterson, Gavin 11, 27
– – Perkins, Lisa 11
– – Selley, Clive 42
– – Spilsbury, Sharon 11
– – Stanton, Ray 11
– – Walker, Matthew 11
– – Watson, Howard 9, 42
– – Wright, Paul 11
Ex-executives
Cimini, Gianluca 7
– – Dimes, Lucy 11
– – Petter, John 28
Openreach 6, 11, 23, 24, 36, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44

C

Carillion 44
Carillion telent 44
Channel 4 8
Cisco Systems, Inc. 35
CityFibre 15, 42
CK Hutchison 18
Three Group
Three UK 8
Competition Appeal Tribunal 43
Conduit 30
Conservative Party (UK) 6

D

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS, UK)
Bradley, Karen 42
Deutsche Telekom 17, 19, 31
Digital Britain 6, 7
Dixons Carphone 11

E

eir 30
Ericsson 18
European Union 8, 9, 10, 19
ExCel Arena 26

F

Football Association
Premier League 27, 28
FreeMove 17

G

Gigaclear 15
Google 19

H

HBF 42
High Court 8
Home Builders Federation 42
Home Office (UK) 16
House of Commons
Public Accounts Committee 16, 20, 39
Huawei Technologies 14, 15, 26, 36
Hyperoptic 15

I

Intel
Intel Security 31
Invest Northern Ireland 9
ITV 18

J

Juniper Networks 31

K

Kronman 10

L

Liberty Global
Virgin Media 7, 23, 25, 27, 42

M

Mobile Broadband Network Ltd (MBNL) 18
Motorola 16
Motorola Solutions
Airwave 16, 17

N

National Health Service (NHS, UK) 11
Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust 11
NetComm Wireless 11
Nokia 26

O

Ofcom 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 20, 23, 42, 43
Burns, Terry 8
– Hodgson, Patricia 8
– White, Sharon 8, 42
Office of the Telecommunications Adjudicator (UK) 24
Orange 15, 17, 31

P

Palo Alto 35

R

Riverbed Technology 35
Royal KPN 19

S

Samsung 17
Serco 44
Sprint 11, 19
Superfast Cymru 41
Swisscom 19
Symantec 31

T

TalkTalk Telecom Group 23, 42
TDC Group 11
Technology
2G 20
– 3G 20, 21
– 4K (Ultra HD TV) 18
– Broadband 6, 7, 11, 14, 15, 17, 23, 24, 25, 26, 31, 38, 41, 42, 44
– Fibre 6, 7, 11, 15, 25, 41, 42, 43, 44
Fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) 41, 42
Fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) 6, 7, 41, 42, 44
– G.fast 6, 11, 36
– HD 18
– Internet of Things 9
– IP 16, 39
– Location-based services 17
– LTE 14, 17, 20, 21
– OTT 28
– Private circuits 43
– R&D 9
– TDM 16
– Wi-Fi 39
Telecom Italia SpA 17
Telefónica 8, 15, 19, 26, 42
telent 44
Telent
Carillion telent 44
TeliaSonera AB 17
Tesco 30
ThreatConnect 31
Tutela 21

U

UBM plc 11
UEFA
Champions League 18

V

Vodafone 8, 15, 16, 21, 39, 42
UK 42

W

Walt Disney Company, The 27, 28
Which? 21

Y

YouView 27

Z

Zen Internet 23
Zscaler 31

About

About BTwatch

Report: #291
Published: December 2017
Next report: January 2018
For more information visit: BTwatch