The Welsh government has confirmed it has awarded a multimillion-pound, seven-year contract to BT to operate its national public sector network (PSN).
As previously reported by ComputerWeekly, the Welsh PSN was set up and run by service provider Logicalis.
News that Logicalis would not be re-awarded the £400m contract, which went out to tender in 2013, first leaked over the summer of 2014.
The Public Sector Broadband Aggregation (PSBA) network – the only one of its kind in the UK – spans the entirety of Wales, covering hospitals, schools, emergency services and local government, with the intent of offering better value for money when it comes to procuring broadband.
More than 80 organisations currently use the network, supporting around 4,000 different sites. 20 out of 22 local authorities in Wales run their entire networks across it.
The PSBA is also open to non-public sector organisations with strong links to the health service, such as dentists’ surgeries, pharmacies and opticians.
The Welsh government pointed to a number of successes for the PSBA since its inception in 2007, such as the introduction of collaboration across the health service, improving response times and resilience for blue light services, and enhanced connectivity for schools accessing Hwb, the all Wales virtual learning environment.
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Welsh government economy minister Edwina Hart said the PSBA contract benefits public service organisations throughout Wales by making significant savings, while continuing to provide people with valuable and effective services.
“The network also provides increasing opportunities for Welsh public services to work together to improve service delivery,” she said.
Deputy minister for skills and technology Julie James said the network was vital to connecting Wales.
“PSBA is playing a key role in our vision to see Wales become one of the world’s most connected digital nations,” she said.
Under the specifications set out in the original tender, BT will be expected to maintain best value over the life of the contract – which should run until 2021 and could include sub-letting some short-term contracts to other providers – and remain committed to evaluating and trialling new networking technologies as they arise.
President of global government and health for BT Global Services Ian Dalton said the contract would bring groundbreaking communications services to public sector customers in Wales.
“Having a great infrastructure can really improve efficiency and the delivery of better, joined-up services,” he said.