The DTLR is to launch a competition to select a company to provide the fire service with a national communications system. However, some telecoms operators are already considering boycotting the£500m project because they believe they have little chance of winning.
BT Cellnet won a£2.9bn deal to develop a new mobile network for the police service, called Airwave. One rival, which asked to remain anonymous, said since mmO2 would be able to piggback the fire service network on Airwave, it would not be able to compete on price.
Last month the National Audit Office criticised the handling of the Airwave project, accusing it of failing to deliver a seamless network across all emergency services. It also said that if mmO2, through Airwave, won other public radio contracts, then the police service would see no financial gain.