The government has signed a framework agreement worth an estimated contract value of £5m to enable central and local authorities transition to public sector networks (PSN).
Global Crossing, BT and Siemens and Virgin Media Business were named as the three suppliers in the government's Managed Telecommunications Convergence Framework (MTCF). The MTCF will provide managed telephony network services, hosted IP telephony, unified communications and video conferencing services to all public sector bodies.
The framework is designed as a bridge from the previous MTS agreement with Global Crossing in 1996, originally designed to provide managed voice and data services to a small number of government departments. The MTCF agreement will last for a maximum of four years until public sector bodies adopt PSNs.
The MTCF will provide a unification process to establish a common platform. It is hoped this will simplify network management and deliver a system where users can be added or removed. "One tangible benefit of this approach is that government buildings could operate without multiple connections for each internal department or application," said Global Crossing.
Jeff Parris, senior vice-president at Global Crossing, said the MTFC framework will act as a precursor to the move to PSNs. "The vision of PSN is that everyone will be conforming to the same standards. That vision remained at the heart of the government's ICT strategy. But it has not been fully developed yet and will take one to two years before it's rolled out. So this is a bridging between the old world and new."
Under the new set of standards, suppliers are to be PSN-accredited by the government. "We are confident that under the next few weeks we will achieve that accreditation," added Jeff Parris.
Michael Bowyer, director of Public Sector strategy, Siemens Enterprise Communications said: "Being awarded this framework is a central part of our drive towards the successful development of the PSN."
Stuart Hill, vice-president, Central Government and London 2012 Programme, BT Global Services, said: "We are pleased to support Siemens Enterprise Communications in offering our extensive network capabilities in delivering this important part of the government's PSN agenda."