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A group of counties across the east of England, led by Cambridgeshire County Council, has awarded a six-year, £45m wide area network (WAN) solution and services contract to SME managed network provider MLL Telecom.
The firm will work alongside fibre network builder CityFibre to connect public services across Cambridgeshire and neighbouring counties with gigabit full-fibre connectivity.
Dubbed EastNet, the new service will replace the largely successful, but now legacy Cambridge Public Services Network (CPSN), which was run by Virgin Media Business. It is set to go live in a phased transition over the next year, with the migration to be completed by May 2019.
It will serve local schools, NHS foundation trusts, district, city and county councils and blue-light services in Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Northamptonshire, incorporating connectivity into the existing Public Services Network (PSN) and the new Health and Social Care Network (HSCN), alongside other centralised services such as managed Wi-Fi and firewalls.
“Connectivity is a crucial factor in the continued socio-economic growth and development of our region and local partners,” said Steve Count, leader of Cambridgeshire County Council.
“The decision to work with MLL was based on a clear demonstration that it would deliver a market-leading service that is not just best value to Cambridgeshire County Council, but to our partners and to the wider community as well. This partnership will give us access to a cost-effective full-fibre network to allow us to deliver on our digital strategy and support our citizens now and into the future.”
The first phase of the project will see a joint £2.25m investment from MLL and CityFibre – which has just delisted from London’s AIM in preparation to be acquired by a venture capital outfit – to enhance the core infrastructure, with MLL extending its network to Huntingdon and Northampton, and CityFibre enabling new full-fibre infrastructure in Cambridge itself, ultimately offering new connectivity options for city businesses and residents.
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EastNet’s backers said they selected MLL because it had demonstrated it could deliver the best service – based on quality and price – to meet member demands for increased data usage, something that connecting to an ultrafast full-fibre network should address comfortably.
Also, each EastNet partner will be able to sign separate contracts provisioned through MLL, with the intent of ensuring that they can receive a more flexible and adaptable solution to meet their differing needs.
“Throughout this process, it was critical that we were able to deliver quality not just for Cambridgeshire County Council, but to the wider communities in the region – which our partnership with CityFibre has allowed us to offer,” said MLL’s public sector business development director, Gail Harvey.
“Over the next six years, our aim is to provide continuous innovation, flexibility and agility to enable our EastNet partners to keep up with changing market requirements,” she added. “Drawing on our 25 years of public sector IT experience, we will ensure that our service remains fresh, relevant and adaptable to meet the needs of each EastNet partner.”