Vodafone to build public sector network in Ireland

The Irish arm of the mobile network is chosen by the government to build a fibre network exclusively for public sector organisations

The Irish government today confirmed Vodafone Ireland would be building a new fibre network for use by public organisations in the country.

The department of public expenditure and reform – created in 2011 to help the government control public spending – decided ICT would be key to improving public services. As such it put forward funding – the amount has yet to be disclosed – to create the network exclusively for government departments and public organisations.

Vodafone Ireland will invest a further €5m into the project over the next three years to cover the costs of rolling out the high bandwidth network, which is set to reach speeds of up to 10Gbps.

The mobile operator will begin by connecting up government data centres and “key locations” – although the exact whereabouts have not been revealed – by the end of 2013, with other government agencies and organisations joining in the coming years. It will then be responsible for managing the network going forward.

Once the network is in place, the government hopes to be able to encourage further use of cloud computing; something its CIO, former UK government deputy CIO Bill McCluggage, encouraged.

“With this high-powered network, we will be able to provide a new range of shared resources and software services that will, eventually, be accessible to every public sector employee from a desk or mobile device,” he said.

“It is underpinned by a solid business case that provides compelling value-for-money for the state and taxpayers.”

Anne O’Leary, CEO of Vodafone Ireland, added: “Currently government departments and agencies operate on different systems and all use different applications. By building this connected network, it will be easier for the CIO and his team to simplify ICT provision across the public sector to deliver services that create more efficient working practices across government.”

The plans are similar to the UK’s Public Services Network or PSN, which is based on a network from Virgin Media Business. The first central government department to sign up was the Ministry of Justice back in March 2012, but now a number of organisations, both centrally and locally, have got on-board, from HMRC through to schools and emergency services.

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