The BBC has put a seven-year networking and connectivity services contract out to tender under the auspices of the Government Procurement Agreement, which could be worth up to £230m.
The contract, which may be extended by up to three years at the BBC’s discretion, will cover all the interconnections that support both the corporation’s television and radio broadcast signals and enterprise IT network.
It will cover a number of BBC affiliates and business units, including BBC Worldwide, BBC Global News, BBC World Service, Children in Need, the Gaelic Media Action Group, and third parties in which the BBC has an interest, such as Welsh-language broadcaster S4C.
At its heart, the network will consist of a high-capacity, core network to connect fixed sites, with a range of presentations including point-to-point and point-to-multipoint circuits.
The chosen supplier will also deploy a range of telecoms products and services, including but not limited to permanent and temporary private circuits, direct exchange lines, ISDN lines and ADSL services.
However, not included, said the BBC, are enterprise IT local area networks, mobile telephone and data or internal telephony services, which are to form part of a separate procurement.
The contract will be run under the BBC’s Aurora Programme – a new multi-sourced approach to procurement currently being implemented following the expiration in March 2015 of a 10-year, £2bn deal with Siemens, and subsequently Atos.
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Set for completion two years from now, Aurora will ultimately see various IT functions at the BBC grouped together into seven individual service deals – of which connectivity services is one – in a so-called tower model, co-ordinated internally by the BBC.
The successful supplier will be “expected to co-operate” with the BBC’s commercial and service management functions, as well as its other IT suppliers, under the terms of the tower model. The other contracts are user computing; hosting platforms and services; business systems; production and broadcast services; and distribution services.
The BBC believes that multi-sourcing its IT needs will allow it “to get better value, greater flexibility and access to new technology as it emerges”, as well as offering maximum value for licence fee payers.
A number of government departments – including the Department for Energy and Climate Change – have also run tower models. However, Government Digital Service executive director Mike Bracken has signalled a move away from that particular procurement method.
Suppliers will have until midday on 27 April 2015 to submit tenders or requests to participate.