Essex County Council is to upgrade ICT services for 200,000 users in an £81m next generation network (NGN) contract that also aims to cut costs.
The council awarded the NGN contract to Daisy Updata Communications Limited (DUCL), a joint venture of unified communications services provider Daisy Group and network solutions provider Updata Infrastructure. The contract requires no financial investment from the council, and forms part of the council's strategy to save £200m a year by 2017.
The 10-year contract is built to public sector network (PSN) standards so that it enables secure connectivity to government services and provides a platform to share services with the council's other public sector stakeholders such as the NHS.
It covers managing and developing a single network with connectivity to schools, council sites, local district, borough and unitary councils, Essex Police and Essex County Fire Services. It will combine the council's data and telephony networks and add services such as unified communications, video conferencing and fixed telephony in a bid to aid flexible working.
The joint venture said that the network will also provide connectivity and associated services to more than 200 of the council's corporate sites, including offices, libraries and 550 primary, secondary and academy schools.
"As part of a comprehensive upgrade programme, primary schools will receive an increase in network bandwidth from 2Mbit/s to 10Mbit/s, and secondary schools and academies will have the option of upgrading their links to a 1Gbit/s connection. Where required, corporate sites will also receive a bandwidth upgrade to meet new services," it said.
David Wilde, CIO at Essex County Council, said that for users of the network it was about getting more for less.
"It is about providing better services at a significantly reduced cost. DUCL have developed a model that will deliver our strategic objectives and support the transformation of the council's services delivered to our citizens," he said.
Wilde added that the council is committed to sharing services with its partners and neighbouring councils through a shared infrastructure.
"The new infrastructure and commercial model are flexible and will be available for use by the public sector in Essex and the wider region, including local authorities, the NHS, the fire and rescue service and charities," he said.