£2.5bn gov't telecommunications contract up for grabs

Flexible working increased…

Flexible working increased…

A £2.5bn network that will be the high-tech telecommunications backbone of government has been put out to tender.

The next generation Ocean Programme network will streamline voice and video communication, data sharing and collaborative working between Whitehall departments, local government and public bodies worldwide.

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The network will see separate fixed and mobile phones replaced with one handset; offer VoIP calls; stream IP CCTV and broadcast quality video; allow data and document sharing; allow bulk electronic data transfers; offer audio, web and video conferencing; provide desktop and document sharing; connect to a range of contact centres; and provide text to speech and speech to text conversion.

The network will replace the existing Government Secure Intranet, Managed Telecommunications Service and Foreign Telecommunications Network.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office says the Ocean Programme is geared towards encouraging increased "working across government", supporting "communications across the whole of the public sector" and providing for a "more flexible workforce".

It will be protected by a range of anti-spam, antivirus, malware detection and firewall services.

About eight companies are being sought by the government to bid for the contracts to build and maintain the network and provide the telecommunications services. Contracts are expected to be awarded in the second half of 2009.

The cost of delivering the network and services will be between £575m and £2.5bn, excluding VAT, with each of the contracts within the four framework agreements to provide the Ocean Programme lasting up to seven years.