EE, part of BT Group, has signed an agreement with Nokia to build the infrastructure for emergency services across Great Britain.
They say it will enable uninterrupted, high-speed broadband coverage for emergency services, operating above ground between 500 and 10,000 feet (152.4 to 3,048 metres) up.
It is claimed to be the first time commercial 4G LTE broadband services have been used in this way.
The LTE infrastructure is designed to connect people, sensors, aircraft and helicopters securely and reliably. More than 300,000 people work for the emergency services.
Personnel on the ground should benefit from uninterrupted coverage with their airborne colleagues via the updated Emergency Services Network (ESN).
Trial and deployment
EE will provide the active network equipment for a full reference facility, and an initial seven site trial network.
After the trial, EE will deploy the network equipment at more than 80 cell sites acquired by the Home Office across the UK.
Nokia will provide design support, network equipment, installation and commissioning services to help timely delivery of the ESN 4G LTE air-to-ground network.
The first trial 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 terrain along with the hardware deployment process, the software capability, and the operational support of the complete Air-to-Ground service, prior to the roll out of the final Air-to-Ground network.