Motorola removed from government strategic suppliers list following ESN exit

Company claims excision from roster of Whitehall's most significant commercial partners is a "routine update"
The headquarters of Motorola Solutions in Schaumburg, Illinois. Photo: Kristoffer Tripplaar/Alamy Stock Photo

By Sam Trendall

18 May 2023

Motorola Solutions has been removed from the government’s list of strategic suppliers following its exit from the programme to deliver the UK’s multibillion-pound new emergency services communication network.

An updated list of strategic suppliers was released last week by the Cabinet Office; the new version contains 39 companies considered to be government’s biggest or most significant suppliers. This is one fewer than the previous update, published in March, with Motorola no longer featured.

The list was introduced in 2011 and each featured company works with a named Crown representative, who oversees the relationship with government as a whole – rather than the supplier in question engaging with individual departments discretely. Tech firms feature heavily on the list, including Amazon Web Services, Microsoft,  Computacenter, Fujitsu, IBM, Oracle, Virgin Media, and Vodafone.

Airwave – the company that created the incumbent emergency services comms system – was included on the list from its inception. The UK firm was bought by Motorola in 2016, since when the US-headquartered telecoms outfit has been a strategic supplier.

The removal from the roster comes four months after the telecoms firm reached an agreement with the Home Office to terminate a £400m contract for the delivery of the core voice component of ESN – which is also known as the Emergency Services Mobile Communications Programme.

A government spokesperson said: "We keep our list of suppliers under regular review. It would be inappropriate to discuss details around specific suppliers."

Alongside the termination of its role in the new £12bn comms network for the emergency services, in recent monthe Motorola has become embroiled in a dispute over the amount being charged for the ongoing delivery of Airwave.

Following an 18-month inquiry, the UK Competition and Markets Authority announced last month that it was imposing price controls on the Airwave contract which will require Motorola to lower by £200m a year the current amount being charged.

The regulator found that the tech firm has generated “supernormal profits” via the engagement, with inquiry chair Martin Coleman claiming that “the emergency services are locked in with a monopoly provider with no option but to pay a much higher price than they would if the market was working well”.

Sam Trendall is editor of CSW's sister title PublicTechnology, where this story first appeared

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