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Contingency Telecommunications Provision

Volume 448: debated on Thursday 6 July 2006

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster when she expects the project for a new Contingency Telecommunications Provision to be put in place; whether it is expected fully to meet contingency voice and data communications requirements; and how much has been allocated to the programme. (81482)

[holding answer 3 July 2006]: The Cabinet Office last year replaced most of the aged Emergency Communications Network with satellite telephones for all responder organisations connected to the Network and a range of other bodies, thereby enhancing the quality, diversity and deployability of fallback voice communications in the event of failure of public fixed and mobile telephone networks. The current budget for this capability is some £500,000 per year.

The Cabinet Office is also taking forward longer-term work to enhance the resilience of responders’ communications, drawing on the lessons of recent incidents, especially the response to the bombings in London on 7 July 2005. This work is covering the wide range of communications systems available to responders for use in civil contingencies. Some £3.4 million per year is currently allocated for these purposes.