The European Commission has given the green light for the Welsh Assembly’s procurement of a high bandwidth network for public sector bodies.
Wales’ public sector broadband aggregation project (PSBA) aims to aggregate the demand for broadband across swathes of the public sector and replace individually procured and managed networks with a consolidated all-Wales network.
The project aims to provide public sector organisations in Wales with high availability, high bandwidth managed network services to improve the delivery of public services.
Aggregating public sector demand will produce economies of scale, although the scheme will largely use existing infrastructure. The project could eventually provide communications to 5,500 sites across Wales. PSBA will also provide gateways into other UK public sector systems such as England’s N3 NHS network.
The commission ruled that the scheme does not contravene European competition rules on state aid.
Brian Gibbons, minister for the economy and transportin the Welsh Assemly government, said: "The procurement of this high bandwidth network service will give Wales opportunities to lead the rest of the United Kingdom in 'joined up' government and improved service delivery. It will mark a major step forward in achieving the aims of 'Making the Connections' - the Assembly government's future vision for better public services for the people of Wales."
The contract for the broadband network is to be procured using the new "competitive dialogue" procurement procedure introduced by the EU in 2006 and also used by the Cabinet Office for its £32m shared services deal.