Network Rail has ditched Vodafone for O2 in a telecommunications service deal that will see a massive migration of connections.
The rail infrastructure operator has signed a deal with O2 for voice, BlackBerry support and other mobile data services.
The deal marks a further step in the restrucuting of Network Rail's IT and communications operation, which began in March 2007 when it announced a plan for the IT department to refocus on core activities and to outsource its enterprise applications and distributed computing workstreams.
The restructuring proposed that Network Rail’s infrastructure support services department would continue to manage and support applications and equipment across the organisation, while the IT helpdesk, incident management and operations bridge units were to be amalgamated into a new service centre to support Network Rail’s 20,000 IT users.
The value of the telecoms deal announced today has not been disclosed, however it is O2’s largest corporate customer win and one of the UK’s largest ever transfer of numbers, with 23,000 connections migrating to O2.
Under the contract, O2 will work with Network Rail to develop bespoke solutions. It is likely that the services will be focused on "Network Rail engineers out in the field", said an O2 spokesperson.
O2 will also find new areas of business that can benefit from the use of mobile technology. Further details on these services are not yet available, as the operator is "currently working with Network Rail to understand their needs and develop bespoke solutions for them", a spokesperson for O2 said.
"We are keen to embrace new ways of communicating with our people and suppliers and changing the way we work by using new technology," said Network Rail director of information management Catherine Doran.
O2 has been involved in other large scale migrations, including Merrill Lynch, the Automobile Association (AA) and the Royal Bank of Scotland.
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