Six broadband providers get government thumbs-up

The Office of Government Commerce has taken steps to speed up the provision of high-speed services to the public sector - community rural broadband could also benefit

The UK Government on Wednesday named six broadband providers as preferred suppliers to the public sector. The move is expected to speed up the adoption of broadband by the public sector by reducing the time and effort needed to find a suitable product. It could also have a positive knock-on effect on the availability of broadband services across Britain.

BT, Easynet, Fujitsu, Kingston Communications, Synetrix and Telewest Business are all on the list. Under the Broadband Solutions Framework Agreement, operated by the Office of Government Commerce (OGC), public sector bodies can now buy high-speed Internet services from any of these six telecoms operators without going though a full tendering process.

"We are delighted that the OGC has taken a fresh approach to the procurement of broadband in the public sector," said Christopher Small, director of public sector at Telewest Business, in a statement.

"The scope of the framework enables broadband in all its guises, from a simple 512Kbps connection through to full high-bandwidth wide area networks and virtual private networks, and adds further momentum to the realisation of Broadband Britain," explained Small.

The aggregation of public sector demand is central to the government's broadband strategy, as it believes it can be used to drive the rollout of high-speed Internet networks into today's broadband black spots.

Critics, though, claim that there is insufficient detail about how this vision will actually be met

Sir George Young MP warned earlier this year that uncertainty about how the government will broadband-enable the public sector is putting off some local communities from taking direct action themselves.

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