The Cabinet Office has announced the winning bids to supply the multi-million pound Public Service Network (PSN) connectivity framework.
The PSN, first mooted by the previous Labour government, aims to cut the cost of delivering services by interconnecting disparate local government networks with each other, central government, the NHS and other public sector and voluntary organisations.
"The PSN will change the way public sector organisations work and interact, making it possible for government to operate in a much more flexible way," said Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude.
"We are confident that the PSN programme will substantially reduce the cost of communication services across government," he added.
The connectivity framework includes the initial building blocks of the PSN, mostly LAN/WAN interconnectivity design and deployment and business continuity.
Of the 16 original bidders, 12 suppliers have been selected: Virgin Media, Logicalis, BT, Cable & Wireless, Level 3 (formerly Global Crossing), Capita, Updata Infrastructure, Fujitsu, MDNX Enterprise Services, eircom, KCOM and Thales.
The value of the framework connectivity contracts is between £500m and £3bn, according to the tender. The contracts are for two years with one-year extension options.
The list of winners is a mix of the largest and smaller providers, fulfilling the Cabinet Office's promise to make more use of smaller suppliers to deliver its IT services.
"The 12 successful suppliers named in the PSN Connectivity Framework include small and medium-sized enterprises as well as major industry names, underlining our commitment to establish a more open and competitive ICT marketplace at the heart of the UK public sector," said Maude.
The results of a separate tender to supply services to the PSN will be announced later this year.