Virgin Media Business has announced a next-generation network with Westminster City Council that can be accessed by other public authorities in London to buy networked services and reduce costs.
Virgin will run the system into 60 Westminster buildings to connect 2,500 staff to a 1Gbit/s network which could save up to £500,000 within the next five years by allowing councils to buy key services such as telephony, CCTV, Wi-Fi and video in bulk.
Debbie Wisdom, head of information service strategy at Westminster City Council, told V3.co.uk that a framework agreement is the most sensible way to help Westminster and other councils exploit the benefits of a shared network.
"When we started to plan for the procurement of our WAN about 18 months ago we saw that several other councils were going to be doing likewise in a few years, so we took the decision to set up a framework agreement," she said.
"This means other councils and public authorities in London can use the same network as well as purchasing other services that can run over the top to create a one-stop shop where councils can buy networked services."
The value of the contract is said to be worth up to £190m, but Wisdom explained that this figure will apply only if all the authorities that could use the service signed up, and is not the price Westminster will pay.
No other public authority has yet signed up, but Wisdom suggested that the neighbouring boroughs of Kensington & Chelsea and Hammersmith & Fulham are likely to do so as the three have a wider shared services agreement.
The network will go live in around 18 months as Westminster moves off its existing contracts, and Wisdom explained that the council is signed up for WAN and internet access from Virgin.
The council will then consider other services such as wireless networking and local area network management as other contracts expire.
Virgin Media Business is well placed to provide these sorts of deals, having taken over management of the London-wide Public Sector Network (PSN) in January which was initially used to provide network management to educational buildings.
The company plans to increase the scope of the PSN to offer connectivity to all public sector authorities in the capital, including schools, hospitals, police forces and other councils.
Westminster City Council hit the headlines on Monday after its chief information officer David Wilde revealed that he had chosen to give staff the choice of BlackBerry or Windows Phone 7 devices as their corporate smartphone.
Several V3.co.uk readers backed the decision in the face of initial criticism, and suggested that the platform should be looked at by CIOs in public and private organisations.
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