Westminster City Council has signed a five-year framework contract with Virgin Media Business to launch a new public sector network dedicated to Greater London. 

Under the £190 million contract, Virgin Media Business will provide the Next Generation Network (NGN), which will act as a one-stop shop from which any public sector organisations in London can buy phone, data and video technology, cloud services, unified communictations, CCTV and WiFi services.

David Wilde, CIO at Westminster City Council, said that the contract will help to deliver significant savings through reduced network infrastructure costs and shared services.

“The actual savings [for Westminster] is £1.2 million over five years,” he said.

“The pricing we’ve got is very good. Our network costs are coming down. The convergence will drive the costs of infrastructure down. It can scale up in volume [for shared services]. We can reduce the number of internet connections and pipes we need. Also, it’s a major enabler as we move to converged applications, for example, Microsoft Exchange environments, over time.”

The NGN is open to all London-based public sector organisations, including the NHS and the Greater London Authority (GLA). Those that procure through the framework will be buying services directly from Virgin Media Business.  

Wilde said that Westminster’s Tri-Borough partners, Hammersmith & Fulham Council and the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, will move onto the NGN once existing contracts end, over the next 12 to 18 months.

He said together they will achieve a total of £2.2 million savings over a five-year period, once connected.

“That’s just the infrastructure costs [savings] and nothing else,” Wilde said.

Westminster will be connected to the network by the end of this year, moving from an existing group of suppliers which includes BT, Colt, Virgin Media Business and Cable & Wireless.

Virgin Media Business also delivers the PSN services for the London Grid for Learning, which is dedicated to the education sector. Although Wilde believes that the NGN could converge with the LGfL network in the future, he insists that they offer complementary services – for example, the education PSN provides email services for students and curriculum-specific security services that the NGN would not need to provide.