FirstGroup, the UK's largest transport operator, has gone to Global Crossing to supply an £8.2 million wide area network to secure and improve its operations. The four-year contract will see Global Crossing implement a fully managed data network that will support over FirstGroup 700 sites.

Glenn Bladon, group head of IT services at FirstGroup, said, “Global Crossing has strong experience in the transport industry running tested and proven networks.

"We believe that the extension of our partnership with Global Crossing will have a positive impact on our business, and the way we are able to deliver our services to customers, manage our network, and increase reliability and safety.”

Global Crossing already provides a managed voice solution to FirstGroup as part of a dedicated industry-wide service supporting nearly 50,000 users. The addition of the UK Wan will also enable FirstGroup to capitalise on the potential benefits of moving to a converged IP voice/data platform in the future.

Global Crossing says it currently supplies network services to more than 90 percent of UK rail companies. FirstGroup operates about a quarter of the UK passenger rail network, and is Britain’s largest bus operator running around 20 percent of all local bus services.

FirstGroup also owns the Greyhound coach service in the US, but the Global Crossing contract does not cover this business.

In other WAN contract business, the Debenhams store chain recently brought in BT to upgrade its wide area network.