What is it?
PSN is the trusted, shared infrastructure that connects increasing numbers of organisations delivering public services to each other and to cloud based and hosted services they can use or share. Developed in 2011, after the Cabinet Office asked Industry to design an inclusive eco-system, the PSN was based on common Enterprise standards including performance and service, it’s made up of inter-connected commercial networks from many competing suppliers, so ensuring best value.
Why is it trusted?
To create the right environment for public service providers to share information and services, trust must be established between organisations. The annual PSN compliance process does this by ensuring that both suppliers and customer adhere to appropriate standards including security and technical interoperability. Using existing good practice and standard commercial services wherever possible, this approach creates ‘good and safe’ place for the PSN community to do business at least cost. This way, trust can be established without direct contracts and previous experience.
How secure is PSN?
PSN provides an Assured Wide Area Network (WAN) suitable for using with information classified as Official (or Protect/IL2 in old terms). All services certified as PSN compliant are pre-accredited to ensure this and so cover the great majority of government requirements. Where information is classified as Official-Sensitive (similar to the old term Restricted/IL3), then PSN can also meet this need with Protected WAN overlay services, using common agreed encryption or connectivity utilising the Inter Provider Encryption Domain (IPED).
What’s the objective?
PSN aims to save the Public Sector money by better utilisation of conectivity and a greater choice of consumption and services and enable more efficient and joined-up public services. The initial aim was to provide a demonstrable £500m a year savings. This was achieved in 2013, according to HM Treasury.
What’s the benefit?
PSN saves money straight away by helping consolidate multiple networks, doing away with duplicate connections to other organisations, allowing the purchase of standardised, rather than bespoke services and promoting open and dynamic competition between suppliers.
Most importantly, PSN enables much larger benefits by providing the conduit for shared services, better collaboration and greater efficiency; transforming the way public services are delivered. Digital delivery to the citizen means that the public services ‘supply chain’ of processes, applications and information must be seamless and online too. PSN provides the trusted means to do this across departments, agencies and authorities.
How do I know if a service is ‘PSN’?
Before any supplier’s service can be connected to PSN it must be certified as complying with the relevant PSN standards. PSN compliant services can provide network connectivity plus a wide range of applications including voice, video, conferencing, collaboration, hosting, mail and many others. You can find a list of compliant services and those undergoing certification on the PSN website.
If in doubt, ask your supplier for the PSN compliance certificate for their service.
What about the PSN Frameworks?
Two procurement frameworks were let by the Crown Commercial Service in 2012, covering network connectivity (PSN-Connectivity) and a range of network services (PSN-Services). Although called ‘PSN’, the frameworks include both compliant and non-compliant services. To be clear, a PSN compliant service can be bought through any legitimate procurement mechanism and not solely through the PSN frameworks. Likewise, a listing on the PSN frameworks does not itself mean that a service is PSN compliant. Although extended into 2016, the PSN frameworks are due to be replaced with a new framework in 2015 called Network Services Framework which will list services that are PSN Compliant as an attribute, so removing any confusion between frameworks and compliance.
How do I connect to PSN?
Before connection to PSN as a user, you need to have PSN Compliance. This certifies that your network environment meets the basic requirements to connect to PSN, and ensure that you’re able to share and consume services across the PSN community. Find out more about becoming a customer from the PSN website. You also need to acquire a certified PSN connectivity service, whether that’s a complete WAN or just a single connection into PSN.
How do I make a service available on the PSN?
Any organisation, commercial, public or voluntary, can make services available to consume on PSN. Think of PSN as a ‘wire frame’ connecting hundreds of organisations on which shared services from communications to line of business or critical support applications can be hung. Doing this generally means gaining appropriate PSN certification as a service provider for each individual service before it can be connected to PSN.
More guidance on how to become a service provider is on the PSN website. Innopsis as the industry association for all PSN suppliers provides invaluable support from compliance workshops, networking and information to regular meetings with key stakeholders. PSN services can be sold through any legitimate procurement mechanism including the Digital Marketplace.
What’s the market for PSN services?
There’s a dynamic and open marketplace for PSN network connectivity and services, with many suppliers competing through the PSN frameworks, G-Cloud and other commercial routes. It is estimated that approaching £500m has been spent to date through the PSN frameworks and on PSN compliant services through other channels. Innopsis is expanding with around 60 members, at least 50% of whom are SMEs entering the growing PSN market.
PSN General Documents and Technical Standards
Ever wondered what a vPoC is? Where does a PoI fit in? What exactly a DNSP is? What is PSN? What documents are in the overalll PSN Standards? The answers are here.
The core of the PSN Operating Model is the Technical Design Document (TDD). This describes the minimal technical standards of PSN Services.
To view or download the documents, please click here
Service Management Framework
In an environment where end to end service may be dependent on suppliers or other consumers who are uncontracted, there has to be a set of rules to obey, a way or working and a common vocabulary that all can understand. There needs to be an agreed ‘way of doing things’, otherwise there will be chaos. This does not have to be difficult or onerous, just following common sense practice.
The Service Management Framework decribes how PSN runs, day to day. For details of the documentation, please click here
How does a Supplier or consumer know that any services connected or connecting meet the agreed standards? Compliance provides a short cut to experience. Services and Customer Environments that meet the conditions described in the PSN Operating Model, and can be backed up by verification, also a rapid trust environment to be established.
How is this done? The PSN Compliance documentation provides the information.
Alex Chisholm, Chief Operating Officer for the Civil Service and Permanent Secretary for the Cabinet Office, blogged about our appointments to the senior leadership of the DDaT (Digital, Data and Technology) profession in January of this year.
Since we started our respective roles in February, we have done a lot of listening to our teams, other government departments, and other important stakeholders. What we’ve identified is that we all have considerable ambitions for digital products, platforms and services, and for the government DDaT function.
The lessons we learned from coronavirus (COVID-19) have shown us that now, more than ever, digital must be front and centre of government’s priorities to meet user needs and this is the perfect time for us to accelerate the digital transformation of public services across the whole of government.
What we’ve been less clear about previously though is that there are 2 quite distinct challenges and opportunities that we need to support:
leading the cross-government community of DDaT professionals and putting the strategy, standards and assurance mechanisms in place to deliver transformation at scale
building, supporting and iterating digital products, platforms and services that can be built once and used across government
From today, the Central Digital and Data Office (CDDO) will lead the DDaT function. This is the next step for DDaT in government, allowing us to go further and faster by strengthening our collective leadership.
The London Internet Exchange (LINX), which through its switches handles a key chunk of UK and global data traffic from 965 members (broadband ISPs, mobile operators etc.), has today reported that they hit a new total traffic peak last week of 6.05Tbps (Terabits per second).
The new 6.05Tbps peak, which was officially recorded on Tuesday 6th April 2021 at 8:35pm, excludes traffic passed between LINX members using the Private Interconnect service. According to LINX, this service is traditionally popular with larger content networks and is currently used by over 100 LINX members, currently at 887 individual private peering point to point connections, many of which are 100G ports.
LINX has a number of exchanges across the UK and their biggest two are based in London, hence the name. In keeping with that a new maximum peak also occurred on LINX’s primary exchange in London, LON1, as this platform alone reached 5.17Tbps on the same day.
A new report from mobile benchmarking firm RootMetrics has used the data they gathered for their previous H2 2020 study (here) to rank 16 of the United Kingdom’s largest and fastest cities by their average (median) download speed on 4G and 5G networks. Liverpool came top with an aggregate speed of 43.6Mbps.
The company typically uses a team of testers to walk and drive around each city while running tests via a set of regular Samsung Note 10+ 5G Smartphones. Using this method, they found that Vodafone clocked the fastest overall median download speed in Liverpool at 73.5Mbps, while EE earned honours in Birmingham on 79.5Mbps.
The 5G-only speeds in both of the top fastest cities were also excellent, with only one operator in either market posting a 5G speed below 112Mbps. But even then, Three UK’s 5G speed of 94.1Mbps in Birmingham was still nothing to sniff at. Sadly, the company doesn’t include a split of 4G vs 5G speeds by each city, instead we only get a general average below.
The convergence between telecoms and IT services businesses has long been discussed in the industry, however, it is the last 12 months that has caused the most significant convergence between the two.
It is therefore important to now assess and understand what has changed, and the effects this shift will have on both telecoms and IT services businesses’ growth in the future.
The UK government has created the Digital Markets Unit to tackle the growing problem of US tech giants using their size to stifle competition.
Modeled on the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), the DMU will focus solely on digital giants, who dominate the internet space and thus, by definition, restrict competition. While it will look at general competition and data privacy, initially at least it seems to have been instructed to look at the dynamic in which traditional media has seen its revenues hoovered up by Google and Facebook and is thus in steep decline.
“Today is a major milestone in the path to creating the world’s most competitive online markets, with consumers, entrepreneurs and content publishers at their heart,” said Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden “The Digital Markets Unit has launched and I’ve asked it to begin by looking at the relationships between platforms and content providers, and platforms and digital advertisers.
“This will pave the way for the development of new digital services and lower prices, give consumers more choice and control over their data, and support our news industry, which is vital to freedom of expression and our democratic values.”
Free, rapid lateral flow tests for coronavirus are now available in England, but the government notifications confirming the results appear to contravene several articles of the GDPR.
All results from the new tests, even if negative, should be reported; but Dr Kuan Hon, director at Fieldfisher, writes that confirmatory emails from the Gov.UK Notify service contain personally identifiable information (PII), and are likely to have issues with GDPR compliance.
As well as general coronavirus advice like the importance of social distancing, each Notify email contains the user’s name, date of birth and NHS number. As Kuan says, “Full marks for promptness, but – for security/privacy…?”
We have never given census data to anyone – not even the spy agencies, says the UK’s Office for National Statistics
The UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) has strongly denied it hands census data over to police and law enforcement agencies – and claims it has “never” handed personal information to the security services.
In a Freedom of Information Act response published on its website, the ONS came out fighting when a member of the public asked if the stats agency handed personal data from the UK census to law enforcement bodies.
Concern has swirled for years about the security of census data, both from ne’er-do-wells and state snoopers looking to expand their little empires. With the British government’s finely honed instinct for casually repurposing data collected for good reasons into something completely different, it’s right that people want to know that data innocently handed to the government isn’t going to be turned against them later on.
Somebody asked whether this 2011 commentary on the census by Amberhawk Training was still accurate 10 years later. It highlighted how census data could be lawfully purloined by government agencies for their own purposes.
The migration of our old copper-based landline services to smart new digital ones is starting to gather steam but it seems many UK businesses remain oblivious to the changes happening around them – so what can the channel do to help them help themselves?
Just three years from now, Openreach will stop selling products that rely on the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). And over the next five years, we’ll upgrade some 15 million analogue lines – including the now ageing traditional landline telephone service – to digital All-Internet Protocol (All-IP).
But despite these relatively short timescales, a worrying number of businesses seem unprepared for the changes ahead. A recent survey by one of our wholesale customers, Zen Internet, revealed close to a quarter of UK businesses weren’t aware of plans to withdraw copper line phone services.
Mobile operator EE (BT) has confirmed that a further 35 towns and cities across the United Kingdom have started to go live on their new 5G ultrafast mobile broadband network, which brings the total location count to 160. Some of the biggest additions include York (Yorkshire), Dundee (Scotland) and Swansea (Wales).
Unlike other operators EE only announces places as being live if they have a minimum population of 10,000 people, within which they must also be delivering 5G coverage to “at least a third of that local population as well as the centre of the location.” By comparison, we’ve seen some rivals announce locations despite only having the tiniest of coverage available.
With the Brexit deal done, there is still a great deal of confusion around how UK citizens abroad, and EU nationals in the UK, can interact with their respective local government – a situation made worse by lockdown and the elimination of face-to-face contact between citizens and businesses. With growing calls internationally for transnational travel to be restricted to only people that have had a COVID-vaccination, a storm is brewing around how to electronically validate identity, vaccination status and other entitlements.
5 million impacted
In 2019, according to UN data, 1.3 million people born in the UK lived in EU countries. Spain hosted the largest group, at 302,000, followed by Ireland, with 293,000. France was third with 177,000, Germany was fourth with 99,000 and Italy was fifth with 66,000. In the same year, the ONS estimated that 3.6 million EU-born migrants lived in the UK in 2019, making up 5.5% of the UK population.