Essex County Council signs £81m PSN deal

Essex County Council has signed a £81m network and telephony deal to introduce a Public Services Network (PSN) across its 200,000 users

Essex County Council has signed a £81m network and telephony deal to introduce a Public Services Network (PSN) across its 200,000 users.

The 10-year next-generation network (NGN) deal was awarded to a joint venture between communications company Daisy Group and infrastructure network company Updata Communications. Essex County Council (ECC) says it will save £1.2m per year in network costs from April 2013.

Daisy Group and Updata Communications will manage and develop the IT network infrastructure and associated telephony services. Under the joint venture, 75% of the total contract value is going to Updata.

The NGN will be built to PSN standards and establish a single network with connectivity to schools, council sites, unitary councils, Essex Police and Essex County Fire Services. It will also provide unified communications, video conferencing and fixed telephony to support flexible working.

The network will also encompass other public sector bodies, such as the NHS and charities, from outside Essex.

The network will provide connectivity and associated services to more than 200 ECC corporate sites, including council offices and libraries. Primary schools will receive an increase in network bandwidth from 2Mbps to 10Mbps, and secondary schools and academies will have the option of upgrading their links to a 1Gbps connection.

David Wilde, CIO of Essex County Council, said the reason for the long contract length was that network refresh costs were built into the decade-long contract.

“A practical example of having a PSN is our shared site with Braintree Council, where we’ve moved staff into their civic centre, which was a third empty.

“That was great for them as it meant extra rent coming in and good for us as it meant we were able to divest our building. At the moment we have two networks going into the site, which can go down to one with the PSN. That is when it becomes a real enabler.”

A greater use of videoconferencing will cut travel time for staff by up to two hours. Under the deal a small number of staff have been transferred to Updata.

The council is cutting the IT function by 35% over two years, a further 32 jobs are expected to go this year, bringing the IT head count down to 150.

The move to standardised, commoditised hardware will require fewer engineers, said Wilde.

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