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ESB Networks chooses EMR for major refresh of digital mobile radio network


Leading telemetry and mobile communications provider, EMR Integrated Solutions today announced it has signed a three-year framework contract with ESB Telecoms Services for the refresh of a digital mobile radio (DMR) network.

Under the terms of the deal, EMR will supply, install, commission and maintain a mission-critical Tier III DMR network for ESB Generation and Wholesale Markets, allowing robust, reliable radio communications between the company’s 23 power stations. Over 400 handsets have been deployed to-date.

Commenting on the deal, Paul Friel, operations manager for ESB Telecoms Services said:

“I want us to be proactive rather than reactive in managing our radio networks and that’s what we’ve achieved with EMR through this contract.  We’ve moved to a fully integrated and managed system for everything from operations to evacuation and person location.  That’s innovation, that’s clever,” he said.

The network refresh, based on Motorola digital radio technology, was initially driven by an operational requirement for reliable, high performance inter-station communications, from hydro-electric power stations such as Inniscarra in Cork and Erne in Donegal to the hydro control centre in Turlough Hill, Co Wicklow.  It will now be extended to all power stations nationwide.

Many new features are being rolled out for the first time including Tier III trunking, which allows inter-station, radio communications via wide area links and an innovative person-location system, particularly critical for smaller power stations.  The system uses a series of wall-hung, wireless beacons, which record the radio’s signal as it passes and updates the mapping application at the location. If a user triggers an emergency alarm, they can be immediately located within the building.

“That’s lateral innovation where we’re using the radio system as a person-location system through a different technology,” said Mr Friel.  “We’re fully utilising the asset and it’s only been possible through the collaborative working relationship we have with the engineering team at EMR.  We share our problems with them and together we find a solution.  This approach has been very powerful for us,” he said.

Other technology ‘firsts’ include the deployment of a remote battery management solution, which allows ESB staff to ensure sufficient radio infrastructure power is available to all stations in the event of power outage.  In addition, work to integrate the radio network into ESB’s VoIP telephony system is well underway and this will see radio users connected to the voice network and able to make voice calls as they would with a mobile phone.

The selection of Motorola technology for the two-lot tender was a natural one according to Alan Feenan, sales director with EMR Integrated Solutions.

“ESB staff operate in the most demanding environment, where they’re exposed to damp, cold conditions for most of the year.  The Motorola portfolio of handsets and repeaters is extremely rugged and reliable.   Standardising on Motorola equipment also leveraged the ESB’s existing investment in their technology and end-to-end management of all DMR field assets is now a reality, thanks to deployment of centralised network management software at their telecoms operations centre,” he said.

Mr Feenan believes that this radio network is one of the most sophisticated and feature-rich currently in use across Ireland and the UK.


Pictured above left to right are: Alan Feenan, sales director, EMR Integrated Solutions and Paul Friel, operations manager, ESB Telecoms Services 

Editor’s Notes:  Tier III digital mobile radio covers operation in frequency bands of 66–960 MHz. Tier III supports trunking or voice, data and short messaging allowing inter-station communications across wide area network links.  Tier III compliant products were launched in 2012.