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

Compliance

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.

To see the documentation, please click here

Covid-19 immunity passport tests to begin in UK

Covid-19 immunity passport tests to begin in UK

A Covid-19 immunity and vaccination passport developed by two UK firms and backed by Innovate UK has entered the live testing phase

The system, jointly developed by two UK firms, Mvine and iProov, and backed by Innovate UK – which funded the development of a working prototype – the Covid-19 passport will be tested by directors of public health across the UK, with the aim of completing two trials before the end of March 2021. The firms said this should give the health services the confidence to then deploy the system at scale to benefit citizens.
The system, jointly developed by two UK firms, Mvine and iProov, and backed by Innovate UK – which funded the development of a working prototype – the Covid-19 passport will be tested by directors of public health across the UK, with the aim of completing two trials before the end of March 2021. The firms said this should give the health services the confidence to then deploy the system at scale to benefit citizens.

Vodafone, Telefónica Commercialise the UK’s Largest Tower Company Cornerstone

Vodafone, Telefónica Commercialise the UK’s Largest Tower Company Cornerstone

Vodafone UK and O2 Telefónica UK on Monday announced that they have signed agreements to commercialise Cornerstone Telecommunications Infrastructure (Cornerstone), the 50:50 owned joint venture company that owns and manages their passive tower infrastructure in the United Kingdom.
Vodafone UK and O2 UK have each entered into long-term Master Services Agreements with Cornerstone, which have initial terms of 8 years from 1 January 2021, with three 8-year renewal periods, and which establish Cornerstone as a preferred supplier of new sites for both operators.
Vodafone intends to transfer its 50% shareholding in Cornerstone to Vantage Towers in January 2021.

BT creates digital transformation unit, poaches Bharti Airtel exec to lead it

BT creates digital transformation unit, poaches Bharti Airtel exec to lead it

UK telecoms group BT reckons there might be something in this digital transformation thing, so it’s setting up a special silo to focus on it.

The new business unit is simple called Digital, and will focus on ‘the development and rapid delivery of innovative products, platforms and services in key areas such as healthcare and data.’ A new silo means a new c-suite exec and in this case it’s Harmeen Mehta, who has been appointed Chief Digital and Innovation Officer. Mehta was previously Group CIO at Indian telco group Bharti Airtel, where she also ran its cloud and security business.

“I am really excited to be part of the future of BT as we build a customer centric digital organisation bringing new products and services to delight our customers and create new opportunities of digital growth in the business,” said Mehta. “There never has been a more interesting time to play such a meaningful role in the lives of our customers and I’m excited to play such a key role in delivering the exciting ambition that Philip and his team have set out.”

Edge Cloud and 5G Poised to Impact Next Era of Networking

Edge Cloud and 5G Poised to Impact Next Era of Networking

The edge cloud will not only become the new point of service delivery and experience but also the point of innovation and monetisation.

While this year presented many challenges, we’ve also seen great resiliency and innovation from the entire ecosystem – from users to network providers to application providers. Despite being forced to move quickly into a near-shutdown environment, businesses across every industry were able to quickly transition to remote operations relatively seamlessly, thanks to the reach and agility of multi-access connectivity networks. Future challenges might be aided by 5G and edge cloud.

With recent studies showing that up to 30 percent of the workforce will still be working remotely through the end of 2021, the lines between enterprise and consumers have permanently blurred. As working from home becomes the new norm, there is a change in traffic patterns, and enterprise customers, by extension, now need to be served at home as well. This means service providers should prepare to architect their networks and services around this new reality, designing for far better experiences for users, wherever they might be.

To solve for this, 5G and the distributed edge cloud have become an even more prominent part of the service provider’s move to cloud-native network architectures to deliver secured and assured service experience at much faster speeds and lower latency while bringing agility for the unknown. The edge cloud will not only become the new point of service delivery and experience but also the point of innovation and monetization, allowing various ecosystem players such as content providers, Hyperscalers, and enterprise application providers to work together. Together 5G and the edge cloud will define the next era of networking. Here’s how.

Signal won’t replace WhatsApp, the cofounder of both encrypted messaging apps says. Instead, people will use the 2 services for different conversations.

Signal won’t replace WhatsApp, the cofounder of both encrypted messaging apps says. Instead, people will use the 2 services for different conversations.

The encrypted messaging service Signal won’t replace WhatsApp, the cofounder of both apps predicted.
Downloads of Signal have skyrocketed since WhatsApp announced it would make users share some personal data with its parent company, Facebook.
Brian Acton, the executive chairman of the Signal Foundation, said there was room for both apps. “I have no desire to do all the things that WhatsApp does,” he told TechCrunch.
He said he expected people to rely on Signal to talk to family and close friends while continuing to talk to other people via WhatsApp.
Acton cofounded WhatsApp and then sold it to Facebook for $22 billion in 2014. He left the company in 2017.

Signal’s downloads skyrocketed 4,200% after WhatsApp announced it would force users to share personal data with Facebook

Signal’s downloads skyrocketed 4,200% after WhatsApp announced it would force users to share personal data with Facebook

WhatsApp informed users Wednesday that they would have to start sharing some personal data with its parent company, Facebook, starting February 8.
Data indicates this helped lead to a huge spike in downloads on the rival encrypted messaging apps Signal and Telegram.
Signal saw 7.5 million downloads last week, a 4,200% increase on the previous week. Telegram saw 9 million downloads, a 91% increase. India was the biggest source of downloads for both.
Signal received significant publicity following WhatsApp’s announcement, with public figures including Elon Musk and Edward Snowden endorsing the app as a WhatsApp alternative.

Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite internet service has been approved in the UK, and people are already receiving their beta kits

Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite internet service has been approved in the UK, and people are already receiving their beta kits

Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite internet service has been approved by the UK regulator Ofcom.
Starlink, from Musk’s aerospace company, SpaceX, will compete with the likes of BT Group and OneWeb to provide internet to people across the UK.
People in the UK have already started receiving the Starlink kit.
One user told Insider that he received his Starlink equipment on New Year’s Eve and that his download speed jumped from 0.5 megabits per second to 85 Mbps.

Government strengthens digital leadership

Government strengthens digital leadership

Alex Chisholm, Chief Operating Officer for the Civil Service and Permanent Secretary for the Cabinet Office has today announced the appointment of three senior Digital, Data and Technology (DDaT) leaders by the Government:

Paul Willmott will Chair a new Central Digital and Data Office (CDDO) for the Government
Joanna Davinson will be appointed the Executive Director of CDDO
Tom Read will be the new Chief Executive Officer of Government Digital Service (GDS)
The Cabinet Office will establish the Central Digital and Data Office for Government – the new strategic centre for Digital, Data and Technology for the Government – in early February.

Openreach fires the starting gun on phasing out legacy analogue services

Openreach fires the starting gun on phasing out legacy analogue services

This summer has marked a significant milestone in the digital transformation of our landline business: at well over 100 locations around the UK, covering around 1.2 million premises, Openreach gave 12 months’ notice that it will stop selling legacy analogue services. And this is only the start.
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).
Ultimately, the plan to withdraw all services that rely on the old PSTN by December 2025 and, from that point on, Communications Providers (CPs) will own the delivery of voice services.

Government spends £87m on extra 460,000 laptops to support remote learning

Government spends £87m on extra 460,000 laptops to support remote learning

The Department for Education spent £87m with its major supplier of laptops for remote learning to cover the delivery of an additional 460,000 machines, procurement documents reveal.

Newly published transparency data shows that Computacenter was awarded the one-year deal on 11 November. Of the one million or so devices bought for the DfE’s Get Help With Technology programme since the start of the pandemic, around 850,000 have been procured from the Hertfordshire-based IT firm – at a cumulative cost of £200m.

The most recent batch, which is the biggest single order for the programme, covers 210,000 Windows laptops and 150,000 Chromebooks, as well as 50,000 Windows tablets and 50,000 iPads. The contract also provides for an optional “potential requirement” of 50,000 Android tablets.

“While price plays an important factor, the department will look to derive the long-term value of remote education and technology in the classroom through these devices,” the contract said. “Devices should present a sound long-term investment and be robust enough to give value for several years in an education setting.”