NHS organisations can make substantial savings on communications by converging their voice and data over a single network, said BT.
Up until now, N3 has largely been used for speeding up the transmission of clinical data within the NHS.
Voice-enabling the N3 network means that two new services are now available to the NHS.
The first is the N3 Local Gateway Service. This allows NHS organisations to connect their voice networks to
N3 and, after an initial set-up fee and ongoing rental charge, get free calls to other users of the new voice service.
As part of this service, nationally negotiated rates for fixed to mobile calls will lead to substantial savings for NHS organisations, said BT, as a result of a partnership with mobile network operator O2.
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BT says currently 70% of the NHS' call charges from landlines are spent on calling mobiles.
Patrick O'Connell, managing director at BT Health, said N3 had hit 18,000 connections by this January.
NHS Connecting for Health, the body behind the NHS National Programme for IT, has funded the voice upgrade of the network. However, there are additional set up and rental fees which will vary depending on the local NHS organisations' existing infrastructure.
And these costs have to be met locally.
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