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EE and Nokia to create “world’s first 4G LTE air-to-ground network for emergency services”

EE, part of the BT Group, announced this week, it has signed an agreement with Nokia to create what it defines as an industry-first 4G LTE Air-to-Ground communications network to support over 300,000 emergency service personnel across Great Britain. The system will provide uninterrupted high speed 4G broadband services to cover a range from 500 ft up to 10,000 ft above ground.

The 4G LTE Air-to-Ground network will provide seamless connectivity between ground operations and air, connecting people, sensors, aircraft and helicopters with the highest security and reliability. Emergency service personnel will benefit as the network is designed to facilitate uninterrupted coverage allowing such services the capability to communicate with airborne colleagues.

As part of the agreement, EE will provide the active network equipment for a full reference facility and an initial seven site trial network. Following the tests, EE will deploy the network equipment in over 80 Home Office acquired cell sites across the UK. Nokia will provide design support, network equipment, installation and commissioning services to ensure timely delivery of the Emergency Services Network (ESN) 4G LTE Air-to-Ground network.

The first site trials of the 4G LTE Air-to-Ground network will take place over the coming months in North Wales and London, enabling EE, Nokia and the Home Office to test the hardware capability over different terrains.

Richard Harrap, Managing Director ESN at EE, commented, “We’re thrilled to partner with Nokia to build a first-in-class and ground-breaking 4G Air-to-Ground network for emergency services across the UK. Our deployment of this reinforces our network leadership as the UK’s biggest and fastest mobile network, and harnesses Nokia’s deep expertise in network equipment and installation of an Air-to-Ground solution.”

Cormac Whelan, CEO UK & Ireland at Nokia, added,“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.”

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