back to article Vodafone: Dammit Britain, your emergency services need 4G!

Despite not being part of the bid to supply the future Emergency Services Network, Vodafone wants to see public services using its 4G, and has commissioned a YouGov survey (something companies do when they want to put numbers in press releases) of front line workers, such as police officers, nurses, and social workers. The …

  1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

    4G not the only data bearer

    The way this is worded, it reads like for mobile data it's 4G or nothing,. but there are plenty of applications across all of the blue-light services right now which are doing mobile data-ery type things but using GPRS or 3G.

  2. lsces

    So just where in the country do criminals go to avoid the police :)

    What use is Vodafone 4G when they can't supply 3G in many areas of the UK. The emergency services need a CONTINUOUS coverage through out the country not just in a few hot spots?

    1. Swarthy

      Re: So just where in the country do criminals go to avoid the police :)

      But if they got the emergency services to sign up for 4G, Voda could promise provide nation wide coverage. The Emergency Services could foot the bill assist with the infrastructure costs of the empty promise roll-out and everyone would pay more for naught win.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So just where in the country do criminals go to avoid the police :)

        Vodafone could provide 4G coverage across the entire country now if they wanted, and doing so would probably increase their chance of getting a contract from the ES hugely. However investing any amount of money in the hope of getting a future return is not something that the bean counters want to do since it will impact their bottom line now.

        In short - if Vodafone want to get a piece of the ES pie, they need to show that it is worth going to them. Throwing cash away in order to get meaningless "surveys" is not the way of doing this.

    2. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: So just where in the country do criminals go to avoid the police :)

      odd-numbered houses?

    3. Chris Fox

      Bandwidth, just one small detail

      Great, swap 99% coverage of the UK landmass for the ability to stream HD cat videos in parts of central London, provided nobody else is sucking up the bandwidth, and your not inside a building. What could possibly go wrong? It's not like anybody would expect to have to rely on this for nationwide emergency comms is it? Oh...

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Bandwidth, just one small detail

        I suspect that the current shenanigans is both a spoiler - drive up the costs for competitors and simply wanting to get business to prevent a competitor getting it - as once you've won the business, you are in a position to fix the problems (known at time of contract) because large clients are unlikely to move the contract t another supplier, who because they didn't win the contract don't gear up etc...

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So just where in the country do criminals go to avoid the police :)

      They could visit me... I only get a phone signal 50% of the time, Don't think I've ever seen a 3G service here let alone a 4G one.

  3. durandal

    It's all very well saying that 4G can do it all

    But who's forking out for devices when the old bill are facing 20% spending cuts?

    The met's much-vaunted fondleslab roll out has stalled (so the old HTC PDAs are doing sterling, 3G/GPRS enabled service far beyond their expected service life), and the rest of the country have pockets full of serviceable Blackberries that aren't going anywhere fast.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: It's all very well saying that 4G can do it all

      "But who's forking out for devices...?"

      You need to ask? expect a BYOD announcement...

  4. Vince

    "All of which would leave the life-saving services and other public service workers with no mobile data for the foreseeable future. Pretty much everyone, from Airwave, to Vodafone, to the equipment manufacturers, to the police themselves agrees that the way forward is to keep Tetra for voice and add other devices for 4G."

    ...yes everyone sensible thinks that not having one system to rule them all is a good plan. Especially because Tetra (Airwave) is actually pretty good at the voice bit, and well, mobiles aren't.

    1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      "Tetra (Airwave) is actually pretty good at the voice bit"

      It's also s**t hot at security. I don't see how a 4G service, which will most likely run over the same infrastructure as public 4G, could offer a similar level of security without additional cost for suitable secure segregation of data within the network to keep the protectively marked data apart from other data.

      1. Rabbit80

        Use a VPN?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        maybe the same way that government departments WAN links traverse common street poles, street cabinets, ducts, local exchanges and ISP interchanges. 4G has better data segregation, integrity and encryption than preceding generations. encrypting a vpn over 4G should be no less safer than government workers using a vpn over public wifi for transmitting documents which they currently do without the world suddenly ending.

  5. John Hughes

    Is there any 4G in the UK?

    I just spent a week in London and Dumfries and Galloway and I don't actually remember seeing a 4G signal anywhere.

    1. Rabbit80

      Re: Is there any 4G in the UK?

      I actually get a pretty good 4G signal at home (Where I don't actually need it) - I average 85Mbps download speed and around 15Mbps upload. This is all the more surprising since I never had a stable 3G connection there.

    2. Rob Willett

      Re: Is there any 4G in the UK?

      London is pretty good for 4G, at least where I live. I'm currently sitting in Greenwich Park with a coffee watching the Thames roll by. Very relaxing and I have three bars of 4g according to Apple.

      Now how reliable that indicator is is another story.....

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nearest village to me (1000+ people) doesn't even have a vodafone signal for voice. Forget about any form of data here.

    1. andy265

      The village I live in doesn't have any Vodafone signal at all. All the other networks have managed to get 3G here, but Vodafone have nothing. Their coverage map says that 3G will be here in the next three months, but it's said that for over a year now.

  7. 080

    Something new

    Surely someone could cobble together a system which allows the public services to roam all networks for the best 4G data coverage and 3G backup is a sight better than nothing, just get on with it and stop farting about.

  8. Gio Ciampa

    The emergency services could easily afford 4G...

    ...and much more besides!

    All it needs is for Vodafone to pay up the billions in tax that "Dodgy" Dave Hartnett let them off...

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Vodafone ?? Mobile Data ?? Oh yes...

    Remember the 2011 Census ?

    I was an area co-ordinator. Voda had connedpersuaded the ONS that 3G data dongles would be just the job for our data entry needs. The poor sods living in not-so-out-of-the-way places found themselves sitting in their cars in places where they could get a signal, scanning in barcodes.

    It just wasn't fit for purpose.

    If I was HMG I wouldn't trust a single word anyone from Voda said.

    (I was fortunate. I have decent wired broadband, and my work area was easily connected via CAT5e - the laptops understandably had WiFi disabled, which caused some colleagues grief too)

  10. John 150

    We still haven't got mobile voice coverage in my village...30 mins from Sheffield, 30 mins from Greater Manchester, 30 mins from Derby...not exactly the back of beyond!

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bugger - Needed a - Airwave rocks.

    We recently had the Airwave fella in to do a show-n-tell with our Scout troops, to show them what technology backbones getting them out of shit should they get into it.

    It was a very interesting demo, and yes the kit is old, yes the tech isn't the greatest. However their SLAs are stupidly tight to resolve an outage, and their kit is sometimes camouflaged to blend into the surroundings, such as rocks.

    Airwave may not be the latest flashy thing, but it has coverage and reliability the consumer networks are sadly lacking...

    1. Steve Medway

      Re: Bugger - Needed a - Airwave rocks.

      That might just have something to do with the fact that every every square km in the whole of Britain was drive trialled for Tetra and if reception wasn't upto snuff it was fixed till it did. People with backpacks were used in places like housing estates and pedestrian areas....

      You won't find O2 doing that level of coverage testing even with their 4G coverage obligation.

      4G sucketh for emergency comms, The GSMA still hasn't properly ratified the real deal ES LTE 4G extensions let alone any hardware built to fully comply with the latest draft spec.

      So Vodafone banging on about this simply takes the piss. They also got a TV advert banned for implying the Emergency Services use their 4G instead of Tetra......

  12. Pete4000uk

    Press To Talk

    Anyone build Push To Talk 4G phones/radios?

    Can it be set up to route talk group comms around etc?

    Can these things be added and be reliable when the manure hits the fan?

    1. EssexGuy

      Re: Press To Talk

      I've seen Andromeda "radios" being used at big cycling events. Apparently they work over the 2/3/4G mobile networks.

  13. TeeCee Gold badge

    Next week:

    Rabbit farm pulls figures out of hat showing that the emergency services need more rabbits in order to do their jobs effectively.

  14. john devoy

    4g isnt ready

    4G is still far too patchy to be used on anything critical, as an example i live in an area with no 4G, despite being less than 100metres from the boundary of the biggest city in Scotland.

    1. YetAnotherLocksmith

      Re: 4g isnt ready

      That's nothing*.

      You can stand at the sign that says "Welcome to Hereford" on one main road, with lots of houses on it, and have not one dot of signal, let alone 4G. You might as well be holding a house brick.

      Bromyard, my local town, hasn't had a working data signal on the high street as long as I've been checking it, despite it saying that there is 3G on the handset.

      My house has 3G. Because we've dedicated the entire ADSL (at a blazing 0.8MBPS) to running a femtocell we bought, just so we could actually have communications for our businesses. Hell, we can't even get a second phone landline!

      I'm just hoping that Facebook or Google actually do shame our government into action with their "Get internet to Africa with flying/floating things" initiatives.

      *Excuse the pun.

  15. Hubert Thrunge Jr.
    Thumb Down


    Considering their coverage plots, I should have a good <GPRS> data signal here in rural Englandshire, 100% coverage on their site. Yet I had to use an external aerial to get a signal on my credit card machine. I complained like hell to my provider who eventually relented and gave me a different SIM. Totally un-marked. Worked a treat, instant connection, good data throughput, never failed again. So I stuck it in a smartphone to see who it was... scary. Nothing Squared. O2, perhaps that's why I've been with them for voice since they were called Securicor Cellular Telecom! I've been out in the middle of nowhere and found good LTE connections, where friends with their twice the cost Voda dongles only get GPRS, which goes nowhere.... full signal, no throughput. DNGN! (does nothing, goes nowhere)

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