The network is being built by a partnership between Nokia and EE, aiming to provide broadband coverage to air-based emergency services

EE and Nokia are teaming up to create the world’s first Air-to-Ground 4G LTE network, being designed for use by the UK’s emergency services. 


The network aims to bring broadband connectivity to users and devices based between 500 to 10,000 feet in the air, such as sensors, aircraft, and helicopters. The new emergency services network will provide connectivity to around 300,000 emergency services personnel, ensuring the seamless connectivity between ground and air units required for these lifesaving missions.


The network will initially be trialled at seven sites and, after proof of concept, is planned to be deployed at 80 cell sites throughout the UK acquired by the Home Office. Initial trials will take place in North Wales and London. 


“With the help of this first ever Air-to-Ground network using commercial LTE, emergency services personnel will be able to rely on uninterrupted communications nationwide. This project and its deployment are a perfect example of the type of innovative solutions Nokia, together with our customers, can provide to the public sector”, said Cormac Whelan, CEO UK & Ireland at Nokia.


This development will be part of the governments new Emergency Services Network (ESN), which was announced in 2019 as set to replace the current Airwave service used by the UK’s emergency services. EE’s infrastructure is being used for the project, including building around 300 new sites in the more remote areas of the UK to ensure coverage. 


Ultimately, the goal of the ESN is to keep some of the UK’s most critical communications secure and as well as replacing the dated technology which so often plagues the public sector.  


How will emergency service communications be changed with the advent of 5G? Find out from the experts at this year’s Total Telecom Congress

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