BT loses UK Online contract

The government's flagship portal will move to another hosting organisation after suffering a string of outages in its first year

British Telecom has lost its contract to host the government's portal UK Online, after running the site for just one year.

UK Online -- designed as a single point of access for all online government services -- was announced by the Prime Minister on 11 September 2000, and went live on 4 December. BT's contract to host the service expired at the beginning of September 2001, but the Cabinet Office announced on Tuesday that steps to renew the contract have been abandoned.

"The Office of the e-Envoy is considering the new contractual options, but will continue to provide the service in the meantime," said a Cabinet Office spokeswoman. The portal will temporarily be hosted at another government location.

The portal has experienced a series of outage problems in its first year, but the Cabinet Office refused to comment on its reasons for terminating the contract. BT and the government have released a joint statement to suggest that their business relationship is still intact.

"Although the ongoing negotiations have ended, BT and the Cabinet Office are considering the best way forward for the portal. This includes evaluating an alternative relationship between BT and ukonline.co.uk," the statement reads.

The Cabinet Office is adamant that the quality of the citizen's portal will not be affected in the interim period. There is no currently no deadline for a new host to be found.

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