Department of Social Protection chooses BT for €9m network deal

17 Oct 2011

The Department of Social Protection has awarded a five-year nationwide network infrastructure contract to BT in a deal worth close to €9m.

The contract value is said to be a significant saving on the current cost of running the Department’s network, which comprises 208 sites across Ireland. Part of the savings will come from moving the Department’s telephony system onto its data network.

Under the terms of the deal, BT is responsible for all aspects of project implementation, as well as providing round-the-clock support from its network management centre in Dublin. BT will also provide bespoke training to the Department’s Information Services team, transferring knowledge on how the new network is designed and configured.

BT is connecting all 208 Department sites with Etherflow, its Ethernet core that runs over fibre-optic cable and enables wide area networking. Etherflow is used to access BT’s dedicated Government Network platform, a high-speed LAN interconnection service that facilitates direct peering with the government’s own core network.

A combination of BT’s fibre and licensed microwave technologies are used to access the platform at speeds ranging from 2Mbps to 300Mbps. The Department’s data centres are connected by fibre at 1Gbps rates.

Wide area connectivity is critical for the government body which distributes in excess of €21 billion per year in welfare schemes to more than two million citizens in the State.

The investment in the network is part of an efficiency drive within the agency’s modernisation programme. It underpins a major transformation project which sees the Department integrating both the Community Welfare Service from the HSE and the Employment and Community Employment Services from FAS into its organisation.

Demand is rising for the Department’s services and the new network will enable it to improve its business operations, by serving citizens better while reducing costs. Connectivity between Department offices will speed up under the new infrastructure, allowing for deployment of more complex applications.

Currently just under half of the agency’s 5,200 staff are employed in local offices and a further 2,000 staff will be joining the Department as part of the change.

To meet the requirements of this contract, BT Ireland said it will make a multi-million euro investment in its network infrastructure. The telecoms provider claimed the investment would also benefit other government departments and state agencies, should they choose its offering in future.

Niall Barry, CIO with the department, said the increased capacity provided by BT will allow the department to deploy in-house developed enhancements to core business applications, ensuring a more efficient service for customers.

“The new network will also facilitate further cost savings as the department moves its telephone services onto the data network. This will ensure greatly reduced telephone line rental and call charges across the organisation.”