The government has announced the list of 12 networking firms chosen to provide its Public Service Network (PSN) framework, with BT, Fujitsu and Virgin Media among the companies selected.
The PSN is intended to reduce the cost of using communication services across government by creating a single network that connects Whitehall and other public sector organisations, such as the NHS, to drive cost reductions and simplify the rollout of network services.
The framework is expected to be worth between £500m and £3bn. Other companies included on the list of suppliers are Logicalis, Cable & Wireless Worldwide, Level 3, Capita Business Services Limited, Updata Infrastructure, MDNX Enterprise Services, eircom UK, KCOM and Thales.
Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said that the agreement would help the government improve its use of technology while also saving money.
"The PSN is a fundamental building block of our ICT strategy, and today's announcement of suppliers to the framework is a huge step forward in providing the infrastructure to deliver services to citizens more efficiently and cheaply," he said.
"We are confident that the PSN programme will substantially reduce the cost of communication services across government."
Maude also claimed that the inclusion of smaller firms on the list alongside the likes of BT and Virgin Media underlined the government's commitment to improve the use of SMEs in Whitehall.
"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," he said.
"The PSN will also change the way public sector organisations work and interact, making it possible for government to operate in a much more flexible way, regardless of workers' usual department or office."
Virgin Media Businesses' public sector director Lee Hull said the PSN was a key step in the government's IT strategy and should help deliver clear benefits to public sector IT departments.
"If we are to achieve the Chancellor's goal of becoming the technology centre of Europe, we need to make sure that every public sector organisation has the opportunity to easily procure the very best technology at the best price," he said.
"By treating the whole public sector as a single customer, we're able to unlock the value for money and economies of scale that will make the latest technology accessible to all public sector chief information officers."
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