Eduserv beats BT for UK Online hosting contract

A small company spun out from Bath University has replaced BT as hosts of the UK Online citizens' portal.

A small company spun out from Bath University has replaced BT as hosts of the UK Online citizens' portal.

Eduserv, a registered charity originally set up to provide information services and solutions to educational institutions, has taken over the contract, which ran out in September.

Eduserv already hosts a number of government Web sites and databases including the Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions Web site and the Data Protection Register. Initially serving the education sector, its user base has expanded to include the National Health Service, government departments, libraries and European universities.

UK Online's hosting site will switch from London to Bath but the supplier switch will mean little change to the style and content of the site.

Eduserv's brief is to maintain the focal point for online contact between UK citizens and the government via the Cabinet Office.

Deputy chief executive Edward Zedlewski said: "We are here to provide the services that the Cabinet Office requires. We provide very cost-effective solutions in a short time and have a high degree of technical competence."

John Ludlam, Web resource manager for e.centre, the e-business user trade association, was disappointed that the Government had not gone for a radical rethink, especially in the middle of a new multi-million-pound national TV campaign to attract consumers to UK Online.

"Eduserv will be good for providing lots of links but this will do nothing to encourage more people and businesses to get online," said Ludlam. "UK online will still fail to grab people and convince them of the merits of going online with the Government.

"There are no weaknesses in Eduserv's product but UK Online should be about a lot more than it is. An individual or business going to the site for the first time will just not be excited about going back to it."

The E-envoy's office is planning to unveil an enhanced version of the site next year.

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