Walsall council embarks on public sector network project

Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council has embarked on a project to connect all its assets with its own PSN

Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council (WMBC) has embarked on a project to connect all its assets with its own public sector network.

The project will eventually see multiple contracts with BT and Virgin Media, which provide networks for different WMBC organisations, replaced with a single agreement with network provider Updata.

WMBC will begin by connecting 75 of its 129 schools to a fibre network in July.

When existing contracts run out it will eventually add sites to the network, including libraries, social care and inclusion and childrens services. It is also hopes to integrate the NHS, Police as well as fire and rescue services to the network and talks are ongoing about including nearby local authorities Sandwell, Dudley and Wolverhampton.

"Once the initial education project is complete and following a comprehensive property rationalisation programme, we will begin to migrate our corporate sites," says Sharon Worrall, strategic supplier manager, Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council.

"Those corporate sites currently being considered are all of Walsall's council office sites which could be supporting any of our directorate business functions - social care, children's services, libraries and leisure centres, could also accommodate other public bodies, and other partners working with the council to deliver services to our citizens."

Updata is providing a 1Gb multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) fibre core ring around the borough, linking eight exchanges and the Walsall civic centre. Updata is responsible for the provisioning, rental and management of physical circuits.

The network will provide a combination of 2-20Mbs Ethernet in the first mile and fibre connections to secondary and primary schools. Some sites will use 100Mbps fibre from the start. The network will initially be used for data but could in the future run IP telephony and tele-health systems.

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