Hampshire and the Isle of Wight have signed a £90 million network services framework deal.
The deal with ntl:Telewest will see 1,000 sites connected by a fibre optic network, including 15 local authorities, and fire services, schools, colleges and charities. Some 15,000 staff will be also able to access council data.
Once the service is running, Ntl will also manage it, as well as monitoring performance and providing support desks.
The network partnership between the two councils is aimed at helping them deliver shared services and improve efficiency. It also aims to enable remote working.
The new network replaces the current Hampshire Public Services Network (HSPN) and will be called HSPN 2. It will converge current infrastructure including both councils’ wide area networks, the schools’ and fire service’s WAN and Hampshire County Council’s Small Office Home Office network.
Traffic will be partitioned so that each organisation can select the bandwidth and IT services bundle it requires.
The first phase of the project will involve the creation of the Metropolitan Ethernet virtual private network, which will connect the area’s county council, district councils, borough councils, unitary authorities and fire service. It will also play a central role in the delivery of shared services and flexible working initiatives.
This VPN will give the staff real-time access to council applications and at data, including in remote locations. Authorised staff can connect from home, a remote office and other specific sites. There will also be wireless hotspots around the counties.
The council will create access to shared whiteboard and document tools so that staff can collaborate remotely, and there will be a voice, video and text message service.
Further phases will create access to the network for staff and students at 800 schools in the region, for internet and email usage as well as video and e-learning resources. The secondary schools will have 40 Mbps connections, upgradeable to one Gigabit per second.
Jos Creese, head of IT at Hampshire County Council, said the deal provided “faster, cost-effective and secure networks”. The increased bandwidth for schools would also “improve education opportunities”, and faster connections to emergency and social services “will mean quicker and more effective response".
In 2007, a group of eight Hampshire local authorities teamed up to create a joint e-procurement system to improve efficiency and harness bulk purchasing power.