The Cabinet Office has hired BT to become a provider of the core network underpinning its ongoing Public Sector Network (PSN) programme, a secure “network of networks” specifically for the public sector.

The PSN is not a single network or a single procurement. It is in effect creating a secure internet specifically for the public sector. To achieve this, the Cabinet Office has been working with industry over the past four years to finalise a set of technical, security and service management standards.

By standardising network infrastructure, the Cabinet Office wants to encourage more suppliers into the marketplace and drive down the cost to the public sector. The PSN aims to deliver up to £500 million in savings per year.

BT has signed a Deed of Undertaking (DoU) with the Cabinet Office, and as a result BT Wholesale will become a key supplier of open and competitive Government Conveyance Network (GCN) services. These will interconnect PSN Direct Network Service Providers (DNSPs), which in turn will supply government departments and local authorities throughout the UK.

BT's Clive Selley's future vision

The GCN will be one of the enablers for shared services, cloud-based services and datacentre rationalisation, which will deliver benefits to the public sector while reducing cost and complexity, said BT.

John Stubley, government PSN programme director, said: "The government recognises the commitment demonstrated by BT in support of PSN and our new ICT Strategy through the signing of this document."

BT’s GCN service will be built on its core UK network, which is designed to enable the most important data traffic to get to its destination in the quickest time possible over a shared network.

BT expects there to be up to twenty Direct Network Services Providers (DNSPs) in the PSN market. DNSPs will pay GCN service providers like BT for access to the interconnection "gateway" service.

The DoU signed represents an agreement to bring a fully compliant BT GCN service to market within 12 months of signature. The potential value of the BT work covered by the DoU has not been disclosed by either side.