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TfL kicks off network tower procurement

TfL is to begin £400m network tower procurement exercise in June

Transport for London (TfL) is embarking on a £400m networks tower procurement for a new wide area network (WAN) and access network managed service in early June.

The contract will cover networks tower ecosystem collaboration, service management, project delivery, design and technical assurance, network transformation, WAN provision, access network provision and support services.

A single supplier will be awarded the five-year fixed contract, with the potential to extend for up to five more years, according to the Prior Information Notice.

TfL will hold a market engagement event on 1 June 2015, where it will share more details of the procurement with suppliers, with an Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) notice to be published towards the end of the month. It expects to award the contracts on 1 June 2016.

The current TfL network supplier, Fujitsu, had its contract extended following the expiry of the previous contract in November 2014.

Fujitsu has supplied network, telephony and ancillary services to TfL since 2004, supporting a number of systems vital to the running of London’s vast public transport system, including track access control and electronic service update systems for rail and underground; CCTV services for the British Transport Police; and telephony services for the Dial-A-Ride minibus service.

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It also consolidated more than 30 computer rooms into a single datacentre; replaced legacy network topology and circuits with high-capacity Ethernet and virtual cloud services; installed public access Wi-Fi networks in more than 120 underground stations; and supported the implementation of TfL’s strategy for the London 2012 Olympics.

Towers toppled

The procurement is just one element of an ongoing transformation of TfL’s IT services through a service integration and management (SIAM) and tower model, which started in 2014, but now potentially leaves the tube operator at odds with current government policy.

Tower procurement models were designed to move the government away from large IT service management contracts delivered by one main supplier to a structure where the different components were contracted to different suppliers, while one supplier took on the SIAM role to manage everybody else, without owning any of the tower contracts.

However, the SIAM model proved unattractive to suppliers because they were not allowed to bid for a tower contract as well.

Despite some tower procurements going ahead, notably at the Department for Energy and Climate Change and an ongoing procurement at the BBC, Government Digital Service (GDS) chief Mike Bracken last year walked back the model, telling Computer Weekly that tower procurements were not what the government aspired to, and that he did not want departments taking the decision to adopt the tower model in future.

In a notice issued in November 2014, when it extended Fujitsu’s contract, TfL said the model was in accordance with Cabinet Office guidelines as of the Independent Investment Programme Advisory Group’s 2013-2014 report.

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