Airwave (communications network)
|Type||Public safety network|
|Standard||Terrestrial Trunked Radio|
|Users||Police, fire departments, health care, Military and MoD Guard Service|
The Airwave Network is a mobile communications network dedicated for the use by the emergency services in Great Britain. Designed to be both secure and resilient it allows multiple agencies integrated communications through a nationwide network. It is a secure digital, encrypted network and can be used for voice and data transmission. The Airwave network is based on the specialist Terrestrial Trunked Radio specification.
Airwave is ultimately owned by a Macquarie investment fund named Macquarie European Infrastructure Fund II (MEIF II) and CPPIB Communications Pty Limited.
The introduction of a communications network which could operate effectively in the London Underground network was a key recommendation following an inquiry into the 2005 London bombings. As a result Airwave handsets (or systems compatible with the Airwave network) were more widely rolled out across the three UK emergency services and are able to interoperate with the London Underground's Connect network.
As part of the operational requirement to provide Airwave coverage in the London Underground, Airwave installed specialist antenna systems such as Radiating Cable, which gave good coverage over those parts of the underground network frequented by the Emergency Services.
Airwave performance during 2011 riots
According to a report from the Police Federation Review of the 2011 England riots some police services of the United Kingdom were forced to use their own personal mobile phones to co-ordinate strategy during the riots. However, the National Policing Improvement Agency says the Airwave Network was able to cope with 16,000 officers deployed in the London area. "Some officers had to wait a few seconds for their calls to get through, but, fundamentally, the network proved to be most resilient," it said in a statement.
Airwave and the London 2012 Olympics
Airwave was the official Private Mobile Radio (PMR) services provider to the London 2012 Olympic London2012 and Paralympic Games. It is the first time in Olympic history that this has become a sponsorship category. The company was responsible for delivering a private mobile radio service across all the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games venues.
Airwave built a temporary independent communications infrastructure, Apollo, which became operational from May 2011 when testing commenced and was available throughout the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games themselves. It included dedicated base stations ensuring radio coverage across East London, and in venues across the UK, including Weymouth for sailing and Old Trafford for football.
Apollo was used by LOCOG personnel to allow them to remain in contact with one another and used radio spectrum jointly held by Airwave and Arqiva under a licence from Ofcom. The Apollo Network was operationally separate from the Airwave Network, which is used by the emergency services, and operates in different radio spectrum.
To prepare the existing Airwave Network for the Games, Airwave upgraded its network in and around London 2012 venues where the public safety impact was likely to be the greatest. Airwave did this by re-configuring all 312 London base sites and 1,280 base radios as well as other key sites across the country where Olympic and Paralympic competitions are being staged.