Public sector bulk order to slash broadband costs

Broadband: Government spending is likely to boost access to fast Internet services. James Rogers reports

Broadband: Government spending is likely to boost access to fast Internet services. James Rogers reports

The Office of Government Commerce (OGC) expects to drive down the cost of broadband for the UK public sector following its advertisement for IT suppliers to provide the technology across local and national government bodies.

Last week the OGC placed an advertisement in the Official Journal of the European Communities inviting suppliers to register their interest in bidding. This signals the first step in the letting of framework agreements with government.

Officials predict that government departments are likely to spend in the region of £100m over the next three years on broadband products, and OGC chief executive Peter Gershon expects to win savings for users by exploiting this combined buying power.

"Since OGC was established just over two years ago our collaborative procurement arrangements have saved the public sector hundreds of millions of pounds," he said. "I am delighted that we will be able to offer further value-for-money savings for broadband buyers."

The Government claims that the framework agreements will allow user organisations, such as departments, schools and NHS trusts, to obtain high-speed Internet connections and services at advantageous prices, though officials say that it is too early to say how much the savings will be.

The OGC will be concentrating on the provision of broadband services such as DSL, cable and satellite communications and the framework agreements will be handled by the agency's procurement arm, OGCbuying .solutions.

Broadband has already been identified by the Government as a key issue for the UK public sector. In a speech to the CBI in November last year Tony Blair outlined his vision of using the OGC to drive down the cost of broadband for government departments.

The technology is also an integral part of the Government's planned reforms of the NHS, which expects to offer broadband access to all NHS clinicians and support staff by December 2005.

The OGC, which was formed in April 2000 to streamline civil central government procurement, has already negotiated cross-government deals with a number of leading technology suppliers.

Earlier this year it announced an unprecedented government-wide software deal with Microsoft, IBM/Lotus and Sun Microsystems.

Bids invited for £100m public sector deals
The Government has begun its search for suitable suppliers to support its drive to widen public sector access to high-speed broadband Internet.

An advertisement inviting suppliers to register their interest in bidding appeared in the Official Journal of the European Communities last week.

The move signals the first step in the letting of framework agreements, which the Government claims will enable buyers to obtain the best value for money when purchasing broadband.

Officials at the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) estimate that the public sector will spend £100m on broadband over the next three years.

The OGC's procurement arm, OGCbuying.solutions, will both let and manage the framework agreements.

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