A contract to upgrade the European Union's secure IT network has been won by a consortium that includes HP and Orange Business Services.
The €210m (£142m) deal is for the creation and management of sTESTA (secured Trans European Services for Telematics between Administrations), a network that will cover not only communications between the European Commission, Europol and the European Railway Agency, but also the transfer of biometric data and visa information between national administrations and the central EU government.
"This will provide a highly reliable and secure backbone to connect the new Schengen information system, which will include biometric data, and facilitate interoperability among different systems, allowing for better and swifter co-operation between national authorities and EU bodies," said Franco Frattini, the EC's vice president and minister responsible for justice, freedom and social policy, on Tuesday.
The deal would make the EU's electronic communications infrastructure "considerably more efficient" and would make society "more modern and safer", added Günter Verheugen, EC vice president and minister in charge of enterprise and industry policy.
The sTESTA network will also "improve the possibility to return illegal immigrants", claimed the Commission in a statement.
The contract will be a boost for HP, whose image has been dented by the ongoing corporate espionage scandal, according to Ovum analyst Kate Hanaghan.
"It has an emphasis on security — which is an ongoing area of great importance to both public and private sector customers," noted Hanaghan, adding that it is "a high-profile piece of work in the public sector… which can't be bad for HP's reputation in other parts of government".
Hanaghan added that the deal showed HP was "prepared to look beyond its alliance with BT" when it came to telecommunications consortium bids.
Orange Business Services was until recently known as Equant, prior to its rebranding in June by owners France Telecom.