CDS scraps Gigaclear contracts over failure to meet deadlines

Government Computing

 Start-up discovers that delivering Fibre is not as easy as they thought. 

Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) has decided to scrap its previously awarded contracts to internet service provider Gigaclear for providing full-fibre broadband in Devon and Somerset.

A fresh procurement on the open market is now planned to be launched by CDS this autumn with a tender process to be undertaken to identify new provider(s) of the services.

CDS is a local government-led partnership whose objective is to leverage strengths of each sector to execute a cost-efficient plan to roll out superfast broadband to Devon and Somerset.

The partnership said that alongside the Government’s Building Digital UK (BDUK) agency, it could not agree an acceptable recovery plan with Gigaclear for its publicly subsidised contracts.

CDS board member David Hall said: “Despite painstaking work by all concerned, it has not been possible to agree a recovery plan that CDS and the Government’s Building Digital UK agency could support with confidence.

“CDS is working closely with BDUK on a new procurement process and taking all necessary steps to secure alternative full-fibre broadband providers for our residents and businesses. They are our top priority and we are determined to achieve the best possible outcome for them.”

NHS Internet First Working Groups launched

NHS Digital

A webinar was held on 18th September which launched a set of joint Customer and Industry workgroups to agree the Technical, Service Management, Security and Commercial barriers to overcome to enable an Internet First strategy to be achieved in the Health Service.

The webinar explained that over the fullness of time, more data will flow across the internet and useage of private connections will reduce as access to applications move to the Internet. The timescale for this to occur was not indicated, but it is expected to take a considerable time as it will depend on budgets and development timescales.

A comment was made that the new replacement for the N3 network, HSCN, already meets the connectivity requirements for Internet First for customers. The connections can be used for both Internet and HSCN with the allocation of bandwidth for each service type adjusted on demand.

NHS-Digital intend to hold a one day workshop in October to understand what barriers exist to deliver Internet First.

A replay of the webinar is available.

Study Shows Benefits of 5G and Full Fibre to UK Local Authorities


A new piece of research from Oxera, which was commissioned by the Broadband Stakeholder Group think-tank, has helped to highlight some of the benefits (better employment, increased economic activity etc.) that UK Local Authorities could expect if they help to rollout 5G mobile and “full fibre” broadband.

At present it’s quite well known that the different approaches to street works, permits and planning permission – among other things – that exist between local authorities can sometimes make it more difficult for operators to rollout fibre optic broadband ISP networks. Resolving this will be vital if the UK is to stand any chance to meeting the Prime Minister’s full fibre for all pledge by 2025.

Similarly mobile network operators have long called for better access to public sector assets (e.g. street furniture, buildings), more flexibility in planning and generally better collaboration from local authorities to help achieve the Government’s aim for 95% geographic 4G mobile coverage by 2022. As well as to support the latest ultrafast 5G technology, which will hopefully reach the majority of the population by 2027.

O2 and Samsung to work on 5G connected ambulances for NHS


O2, the mobile phone giant, is set to begin testing “smart ambulances” equipped with next generation 5G technology later this month in a deal with Samsung and the NHS.

Britain’s biggest mobile network operator by number of users will pilot the technology on six ambulances from the East of England Ambulance Trust to create new services for emergency vehicles such as real-time video technology and high-quality scanners.

The trial at the Millbrook vehicle test centre in Bedfordshire will explore how more patients can be treated with paramedics on the scene by improving connections over the network.

New 5G network technology provides download and upload speeds up to 100 times faster than current 4G networks.

Demand for Brexit advice helps push PwC profit to more than £1bn

The Guardian

Partners at firm will get average £765,000 this year in biggest payday for a decade

Partners at the accountancy and consulting firm PwC will be paid an average of £765,000 this year after profits soared to more than £1bn, partly due to increased demand for advice on how to handle the Brexit crisis.

A total of 913 partners at the firm, which used to be called PricewaterhouseCoopers, are to collect an average of £765,000 – the accountants’ biggest annual payday in a decade, and 7.4% more than they got in 2018.

The bumper pay at PwC follows that of its rival Deloitte, which last month reported that it had paid its partners an average of £882,000. The huge payouts are likely to increase political pressure for a breakup of the so-called big four accountancy firms, which have been repeatedly criticised over lax auditing of companies, anticompetitive practices and conflicts of interest.

Building the IT backbone for public sector digital transformation

Smart Cities World

If they want large-scale digital transformation to succeed, public sector organisations must look at their infrastructure

With so many inspiring examples of smart city applications across the globe, it’s perhaps disheartening that many view the UK public sector as being slow in its digital transformation efforts.

 Indeed, despite the UK government’s clear commitment to using technology to improve services and save money, it’s accepted that squeezed public sector budgets and complex requirements make adopting digital technologies on a large scale difficult – especially in a highly regulated world, any tech initiative must be trusted, secure and reliable.

However, while the government itself recognises that digital transformation programmes are “extremely challenging’, the risks of not transforming are also significant, jeopardising the future quality, value for money and relevance of public services.

IfG gives green/amber to government IT outsourcing

UK Authority

Government outsourcing of IT services has brought mixed but generally positive results, according to a new report from thinktank the Institute for Government.

The finding is part of a look at the broader landscape in Government outsourcing: What has worked and what needs reform? that says it has worked best for simpler services such as waste collection, cleaning, catering and maintenance services.

But the benefits have often been overstated, with no evidence to support claims of 20-30% savings, and there have been high profile project failures.

The report includes IT with HR in the back office services category and gives them a ‘green/amber’ rating, indicating a positive view with reservations.

Government fails to reduce urban rural gap in broadband and mobile


Government has not grasped extent of problem

The divide between urban and rural areas, as well as between rural towns and sparser rural settlements, continues to marginalise communities and be the cause of frustration.

Despite significant improvement in both rural broadband and mobile coverage in recent years, it has only barely kept up with increasing demand. Poor connectivity continues to hinder rural businesses and is preventing people from engaging with online public services the rest of the country take for granted.

The Government has recognised that connectivity must be treated as a utility with its introduction of the broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO) and has outlined a commitment to ensure the divide between urban and rural areas is not exacerbated through various funding initiatives.

However, given the continued challenges posed to rural businesses and communities, the Committee is not confident that the Government has fully grasped the extent of the problem, the scale of the challenge, or the wider cost of poor connectivity for the rural economy.

Rural connectivity struggling to keep up with demand

Computer Weekly

The digital divide between urban and rural areas of the UK is continuing, with broadband and mobile network roll-outs struggling to keep pace with demand

The last five years have seen significant improvements in access to fit-for-purpose broadband and 4G mobile services in rural areas of the UK, but increasing demand for digital services means rural networks are struggling to keep up, meaning the digital divide between urban and rural areas remains as wide as ever.

The extent of the challenge was highlighted in a new report from the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, which said the divide was marginalising communities, causing frustration, hindering rural businesses and preventing people from engaging with online public services.

The committee, which is chaired by Conservative MP Neil Parish, who represents Tiverton and Honiton in Devon, said that while the government clearly recognised that connectivity ought to be treated as a utility, and welcomed various commitments to address the divide, it was not confident that the government really grasped the extent of the problem, the scale of the challenge or the cost to the wider economy.