Motorola’s dominance of emergency services radio networks under scrutiny

Motorola’s management over the emergency services community (ESN) might be investigated by the competitors regulator as taxpayers face spiralling prices of greater than £1bn.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is scrutinising whether or not the company is “cashing in” on its distinctive position of delivering the brand new system whereas working the older Airwave community. 

The police, ambulance and fireplace brigade have been in line for an improve to extra superior 4G know-how in 2019, nevertheless it has been dogged by delays. 

The new system just isn’t anticipated to be prepared till 2026 and price taxpayers £1.2bn. 

Andrea Coscelli, the CMA chief govt, mentioned: “As the only supplier of important cellular radio community services utilized by our emergency services, we’re involved that Motorola might be cashing in on its position, leaving taxpayers to cover the price.

“We’re now referring this market for a full investigation so that we can thoroughly examine these concerns and, if necessary, take action to address any problems.”

The CMA is inspecting whether or not Motorola is delaying the brand new community as a result of of the numerous income it makes from Airwave. 

The watchdog fears the Home Office can not safe worth for money as a result of of its weak bargaining position over the previous community. 

It may determine to implement worth controls or make Motorola promote the Airwave community to a competitor whether it is discovered to be anti-competitive.

Ministers determined to herald the brand new emergency community 11 years in the past after failing to safe a reduction on the price of extending the Airwave contract.

The new community was anticipated to price about £250m a year – considerably lower than the £450m spent on Airwave yearly. 

Motorola was chosen in 2015 to work on the brand new community earlier than shopping for Airwave from Macquarie a year later. 

The CMA and Home Office backed the deal within the expectation that Airwave would run for one more 4 years, stopping Motorola from making hefty returns from the previous system.

However, persistent technical issues round delivering the brand new community have meant it isn’t on account of be working till 2026. 

Meanwhile, the CMA estimates Airwave made a mean revenue of £148m between 2015-2019 because the Government paid to keep up the prevailing service. 

Its working margin was 46.7pc for the year to December 2019, in response to accounts on Companies House.

The Home Office has tried to drive down the price, however has struggled with no competitor to assist ship a greater return for the Treasury. 

The watchdog now expects Airwave’s revenue to succeed in £1.9bn between 2019 and 2026, together with £1.2bn for the six years from 2020.

A Motorola Solutions spokeswoman mentioned it “strongly believes” the probe was unwarranted and “threatens the principles of long-term government contracting in the UK”. 

“We have provided financial transparency throughout this project, including audited, statutory financial statements, detailed reviews of CAPEX and spend, and financial plans for the Airwave network,” Motorola added.

“The Airwave service delivers distinctive worth for money for the UK taxpayer. 

“Motorola Solutions has offered worth reductions even whereas making vital investments to keep up the community, which is relied upon by the UK emergency services day by day and continues to perform on the highest ranges. 

“We reject the assertion that we have an incentive to delay the implementation of the ESN. In fact, we continue to deliver on our commitments and invest heavily in the ESN programme and its launch remains our key priority for the benefit of public safety professionals and citizens across the country.”

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