News for w/c 26th August 2019

Huawei: UK to make 5G decision ‘by the autumn’

BBC

The UK will decide whether Huawei should be excluded from the rollout of its 5G mobile networks by the end of the year, a cabinet minister has said.

Digital Secretary Nicky Morgan told the BBC she hoped the government “could do something by the autumn”.

She stressed that the UK needed to make the “right decision” to help keep its networks secure.

In June, China warned the UK that excluding Huawei from its 5G network “sends a very bad signal”.

 

Digital Transformation Can Enable Typical Procurement Organisations To Reduce Cost by 45%

Supply Chain Management Review

Through full deployment of digital tools, typical procurement organisations can reduce operational costs by up to 45%, achieving efficiency levels below those of today’s world-class procurement organisations, new research from The Hackett Group, Inc. maintains.

At the same time, say researchers, procurement specialists are “enabled”  to improve effectiveness and customer experience.

World-class procurement organisations, which spend 22% less than their peers, can also reduce costs by an additional 33% with comprehensive digital transformation, according to the research.

This “breakthrough” can free up resources enabling world-class procurement organisations to further digital transformation initiatives, engage in more value-added activity, and/or fuel company growth.

Unlocking the door for customers and suppliers

Public Sector Executive

Simon Tse, chief executive of the Crown Commercial Service, discusses how the biggest public procurement organisation in the UK is changing.

For some time the Crown Commercial Service (CCS), the trading fund of the Cabinet Office, rightly focused its attention on best value and ensuring agreements were compliant. But now we’re aiming to be so much more than that. Our customers and suppliers are demanding more, they require our expertise to be applied in other ways. 

We want to maintain our position as leaders in the field of public sector procurement of common goods and services, and so we’re considering their feedback ever more closely and reassessing our agreements so they better match our customers’ needs. We’re not only aiming to alter the way we do procurement, but perhaps also the way others view procurement. 

That’s because procurement is changing – and we want to be the agent of that change. Digitisation, simpler contracts and features beyond price – such as social value – make this a dynamic and exciting time to be operating in the sector and we’re meeting the challenge head on. 

verage

University of Manchester study says smartphones can transform patient care

Government Computing

A study led by scientists from the University of Manchester found that remote monitoring by means of smartphone apps has the potential to transform the medical care of patients having long-term health conditions.

The research, which was carried out on patients with rheumatoid arthritis, is said to offer the strongest evidence till date that smartphone technology can make best use of the time of both doctors and patients once the data is integrated into the NHS. In the research, a total of 20 patients were remotely monitored through a smartphone app.

Published in the journal Rheumatology, the research was funded jointly by Versus Arthritis and the National Institute for Health Research Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (NIHR CLAHRC) Greater Manchester.

The app was designed jointly by patients, clinicians and researchers. It enabled patients to input the symptoms they were facing each day and how it affected their lives. Their respective doctors used the data created by the app while undertaking face to face consultations.

Mitel Might Buy Avaya

Channel Partners

Mitel would finally fulfill its dream of becoming a Tier 1 telecommunications player along with Cisco and Microsoft if it’s able to acquire Avaya.

That’s according to Jon Arnold, principal analyst at J Arnold & Associates, who, along with Raul Castanon, 451 Research’s senior analyst of workforce collaboration, weighed in on the latest reports regarding who could potentially acquire Avaya. Speculation has reached a fever pitch this week.

Bloomberg reports that Avaya is considering a bid by Mitel that would create a telecommunications vendor worth more than $5 billion, including debt. In addition, Reuters is reporting that Avaya is considering an all-cash offer from private equity firm Clayton Dubilier & Rice as an alternative.

Want full fibre? Head to the Hebrides

BBC

Grimsay in the Outer Hebrides, a three mile-long rocky outcrop linked to Benbecula by a causeway, has just a hundred households – and the best fibre broadband connections in the UK.

Grimsay and Grand Bernera, a hundred miles to the north, have both been given full fibre broadband, meaning every home in these tiny remote communities can now get fibre piped right to the door.

This makes them unusual – just 7% of UK homes have access to full fibre, which means we lag far behind many of our European neighbours.

Dorset UK Council Propose £5m to Extend Rural FTTP Broadband Cover

IspReview

The state aid supported Superfast Dorset (SFD) project, which has so far worked with Openreach to extend the reach of FTTC/P “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+) to 97%+ of the county (including Poole and Bournemouth), has proposed a £5m extension to its existing Phase 3 contract.

The existing £7.4m Phase 3 contract is enabling Openreach to expand the reach of their Gigabit capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) based broadband ISP network to an additional 3,800 rural home and businesses in the county, although that work is due to end this summer 2019. BT committed about £3.4m to support the Phase 3 contract, with £3.9m coming from public sources (council etc.).

Councils invited to apply for Local Digital Fund

Public Sector Executive

Councils are now open to apply for the next round of digital funding to improve public services, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has announced.

Utilising the Local Digital Fund, councils can look to secure funding from today (19 August) for projects which seek to boost the quality and/or frequency of public services offered through innovative uses of digital technology.

The announcement was made by local government minister Luke Hall MP.

Grants of up to £350,000 will be invested into projects from the Fund.

Councils looking to bid for the money will be expected to work together to explore how digital technology can improve public services for residents in new and innovative ways.

Ideas could range from making people’s lives easier with more efficient, online ways to pay for services or get help, to embracing tech to support vulnerable people or making bin collections, social housing repairs and taxi licensing services more efficient.

From 5G to full-fibre broadband, we’ll fix rural Britain’s internet woes

Telegraph

Our rural communities are a thriving hotbed of industry and technology and for them resilient digital connectivity is vital. They must not be forgotten as we continue to improve Britain’s digital infrastructure.

That’s why the PM has made this one of his early priorities – and rightly so. In his first few days as Prime Minister he recognised the need to provide world-class digital infrastructure across the UK so that, together, we can continue to compete and grow in the global economy. This will see every corner of the UK being provided with full-fibre broadband, so that every community has the same opportunities.

We’ve invested £650 million for fibre rollout in the three years to 2021 and are…

News for w/c 19th August 2019

Councils invited to apply for Local Digital Fund

Public Sector Executive

Councils are now open to apply for the next round of digital funding to improve public services, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has announced.

Utilising the Local Digital Fund, councils can look to secure funding from today (19 August) for projects which seek to boost the quality and/or frequency of public services offered through innovative uses of digital technology.

The announcement was made by local government minister Luke Hall MP.

Grants of up to £350,000 will be invested into projects from the Fund.

Councils looking to bid for the money will be expected to work together to explore how digital technology can improve public services for residents in new and innovative ways.

Ideas could range from making people’s lives easier with more efficient, online ways to pay for services or get help, to embracing tech to support vulnerable people or making bin collections, social housing repairs and taxi licensing services more efficient.

The Government Want Your Views On Digital Identity

Today’s Conveyancer

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMC) has launched a consultation on digital identity, and is seeking your views on how the Government can support the development and secure use of digital identities fit for the UK’s growing digital economy.

The consultation states:

“We welcome written responses to this call for evidence from all interested parties, including citizens and businesses, as well as organisations who anticipate being a consumer or creator of digital identity tools or services, and those focused on protecting civil liberties.

We also encourage responses from individuals or organisations who represent the interests of citizens, vulnerable or otherwise, who are susceptible to being digitally excluded, as well as individuals or organisations who represent citizens with a particular protected characteristic.”

 

Scottish Government runs Civtech Challenge 4.0

UK Authority

The Scottish Government has focused on 11 public service issues including tracking council assets and improving its own pre-employment checks in the fourth round of its Civtech Challenge programme.

It has announced the individual challenges and gone through the engagement process with potential suppliers, aiming to begin the exploration phase in mid-September. The programme is aimed at matching digital tech innovators with the public sector organisations leading the challenges.

CivTech was launched in 2016 as a new procurement route that focuses on asking open questions rather than providing technical specifications in traditional tenders.

Funding comes from the Government’s Small Business Research Initiative.

Building Bolton’s NHS workforce

Public Sector Executive

Mark O’Reilly, project director at Bolton College of Medical Sciences (BCMS), discusses how the local partnership is setting out to train the next generation with the use of a new £30m vocational training centre.

A recent report, published by The Nuffield Trust, Health Foundation and King’s Fund, suggests that current trends in workforce recruitment and development will widen the staffing crisis in the NHS, predicting significant shortages of both doctors and nurses. It states that significant changes are needed in the way the NHS is funded if the situation is to be improved. 

NHS trusts in England are forced to use agency staff to plug the gap. Many of these staff are recruited from outside the UK, which also means the situation could be exacerbated by Brexit. 

Health care careers can often be difficult to access, with challenging entry requirements and working conditions. The proposed BCMS has been designed specifically to address these issues. 

Workplace collaboration, secure systems, privacy regulations obeyed – pick two? Nope, it’s possible to pick all three

The Register

Your biz needs a flow of information… just not flowing out the door

Giving employees fast, convenient access to mission critical data from wherever they happen to be, and from whatever device they are using, is a fundamental principle of digital transformation, which in most cases cannot be compromised. And the parallel, explosive growth in the use of online content sharing and collaboration services by teams within and between companies has been sufficiently pronounced for Gartner to declare the enterprise content management (ECM) market “dead (kaput, finite and ex market name)”.

In its place, Gartner analyst Michael Woodbridge has predicted, ECM would be displaced by “content services” that use multiple on- and off-premises repositories to store and manage information and to improve productivity by allowing employees to access data and applications from any device and any physical location.

Naturally, doing this over different types of network (Wi-Fi, broadband, leased line, cellular and so on) can pose a risk to data security. And while the cloud hosting infrastructure and web platforms used by online sharing services are not inherently more or less secure than on-premises equivalents, they do pose a unique set of problems. Many IT and security professionals, therefore, remain uncomfortable about having little or no control over the information being stored and processed in these services beyond the protective limits and reach of their own firewalls and security management tools.

 

Why are telecoms feeling the pain?

Hargreaves Lansdown

There are only two big UK-listed telecom companies, but they’re a major slice of the UK market.

The sector has had a tough time of late, with both Vodafone and BT underperforming the wider market.

Here we take a look at why, and evaluate their future prospects

 

Is London Smart City Initiative as smart as it could be?

Workplace Insight

It’s been a year since the launch of the Mayor of London’s smart city roadmap, designed to transform the capital into the smartest city in the world. But twelve months later, is the city any smarter? The Mayor of London’s smart city roadmap is proposing to transform the capital into the smartest city in the world, and as part of the initiative, Sadiq Khan appointed his first Chief Digital Officer to help steer the plan to focus on knowledge and technical advancements that will make life easier for London’s citizens.

It’s not just the Mayor of London who is pushing ‘smart’ further in new ways. The Greater London Authority has introduced The City Data Strategy and is sharing expertise through our European ‘Sharing Cities’ project. By collaborating with other jurisdictions, it is easier to share best practice and learn from others.

There is also The Smart London Board which includes leading academics, businesses and entrepreneurs. They advise the Mayor on how digital technology can help make London an even better place in which to live, work and invest.

£250,000 boost for broadband in conference centres

Gov.uk

Tourism Minister Rebecca Pow has launched a competition for conference centres across the UK to apply for funding to improve broadband infrastructure

  • The competition is part of the UK Government’s Tourism Sector Deal
  • Investment will help to boost the £32 billion business events sector

Tourism Minister Rebecca Pow has launched a competition for conference centres across the UK to apply for funding to improve broadband infrastructure with the aim of hosting more international conferences at UK venues. 

The £250,000 funding will be awarded to venues across the UK to support the improvement of on-site broadband facilities and help them attract more international business events. 

Applications for funding will be open to event venues with conference facilities, including hotels and event centres, that bid for – or plan to bid for – events which attract international delegates.

Realities and myths for 5G’s impact on logistics

Information-Age

Here’s a look at some of the myths and realities surrounding 5G connectivity and what it means for logistics.

Of all the technologies coming of age and promising disruption, 5G is probably one of the most exciting. As a communication and connectivity solution, it’s leaps ahead of where we are today, it’s impact on logistics will be immense.

Like any other technology, 5G has picked up its share of hype and hyperbole. It promises change and competitive advantages in logistics. However, the degree to which companies benefit won’t be uniform, and it won’t impact each type of business in the same way.

Here’s a look at some of the myths and realities surrounding 5G connectivity and what it means for logistics.

News for w/c 12th August 2019

Delivering Internet First – Working Groups Kick-off Webinar

Innopsis

To support the government strategy of moving to internet-based provision and the architecture principles described in the Secretary of State technology vision, The Future of Healthcare, NHS Digital has been asked to:

  • define the minimum set of standards to which systems and networks should be aligned
  • consider the future network provision across health and social care
  • provide guidance and support for the remediation of digital services in health and social care so that they are presented over the internet

Following the publication of the Internet First policy and guidance in May 2019, NHS Digital would like to work with industry and health and social care organisations on the next stage to deliver Internet First.

A number of working groups will be established to support the development of the Internet First Target Operating Model (TOM) and associated network connectivity model.

An initial ‘open’ webinar is scheduled for IT leaders in industry and health and social care organisations for Wednesday, 18th September at 12:30 pmThis will be followed by a series of specialist working groups between September and December 2019.

Firms urged to scan networks for major BIG-IP load balancer flaw

IT Pro

Compromised devices are difficult to detect and can act as a springboard for further attacks

Organisations are being urged to scan their networks for signs of compromise after the discovery of a coding flaw in F5 Networks’ BIG-IP load balancer that could allow an attacker to intercept and steal sensitive data.

The flaw in the load balancer, used by many large organisations like banks and government agencies to streamline the flow of web traffic, involves injecting a staging payload into F5’s iRules engine.

This is very difficult to detect, but hackers can, in some cases, execute the attack by simply submitting a command or piece of code as part of a web request the technology will then execute. 

From there, attackers can then take full control over the BIG-IP instance by connecting to local management services or scanning the victim organisation’s internal networks

80% of the UK suffers poor 4G coverage

Expert Reviews

Subpar 4G coverage is a real issue – with millions of UK residents suffering

4G coverage has become an increasingly crucial part of everyday life. Whether you’re using it to check the news, communicate online or navigate your way around town, 4G mobile coverage is a veritable essential in 2019.

But a recent investigation has found that 80% of the UK goes without full 4G coverage, suffering from poor connections and signal blackouts. Consumer association Which? analysed Ofcom data, discovering that countryside, towns and cities alike are all vulnerable – although the worst affected areas are in rural Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The study examined all 650 constituencies in the UK, concluding that a whopping 524 of them (81%) housed constituents unable to get 4G coverage from one of the four main mobile operators: EE, O2, Three and Vodafone.

UK Government To Spend £250 Million Creating a National Artificial Intelligence Lab

Computer Business Review

“Health tech revolution”

The UK government has pledged £250 million towards the research and implementation of AI technology throughout the health service.

The funding will be used to create a national artificial intelligence laboratory that will be tasked with bringing healthcare workers and industry together to produce AI-based healthcare services.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock commented in a release that: “We are on the cusp of a huge health tech revolution that could transform patient experience by making the NHS a truly predictive, preventive and personalised health and care service.”

The AI lab will aim to improve cancer screening by speeding up the testing of results and will also be tasked with identifying patients that are most at risk from heart disease.

The lab will also try to drive down costs in the NHS by creating predictive models that can better estimated the level of resources needed across the NHS such as beds and drugs.

Part of the labs responsibilities will be the upskilling of current NHS staff so that they are familiar with the emerging technologies.

How To Ignite Your Company’s Digital Transformation

Forbes

The digital age has dramatically changed the relationship that companies have with their customers: armed with more information than ever before, customers are now in the driver’s seat. They decide who they’ll buy from, what they want to pay, and even what the product should be. It’s an enormous reversal from the days of “this is my product or service and here’s why and where you should buy it.” 

While most businesses are aware of that shift, many are woefully unprepared to deal with it; everyone wants change, but no one wants to be individually changed. But if executives don’t rethink their businesses from the customer perspective and create a genuine and authentic relationship that creates value for all, then they may not be around in several years. Digital is an existential threat.

The public sector gets serious about customer experience

McKinsey

8 things you should know about customer experience in the public sector.

Customer experience (CX) is getting more important everywhere — including in government. Citizens are accustomed to the experiences offered by companies from Amazon to Zillow and now want the same from governments. In this survey, we look at how the public sector is faring in a challenging environment. There are plenty of lessons here for private- sector leaders, too.

Thought GDPR was a headache? Try data transfers after a no-deal Brexit…

Diginomica

Experts warn that a no-deal Brexit could cause problems for millions of UK organisations, as the UK will be relegated to third country status.

Did the introduction of GDPR require a lot of thinking, investment and changes in your organisation? Even though there was a significant lead time and a decent amount of education around it prior to its introduction? Well, data transfers between the UK and the EU in the event of a no-deal Brexit could make GDPR look like a minor inconvenience in comparison. That’s the view of two academics, who are warning that preparations need to be put in place imminently if the government’s plan is to crash out of the EU at the end of October. 

We at diginomica/government have already warned that UK organisations storing data within the EU could be storing that data illegally under a no-deal scenario and that access to data stored in algorithms could be unextractable. 

Ofcom bills BT £3M+ for amateur accounting

DCL Search

Ofcom has hit BT with a £3,727,330 bill for reporting inaccurate financials to the regulator, leading to the telco paying lower administration fees for five years.

One of the ways in which Ofcom funds its activities is to charge certain companies an annual administration fee. This fee is determined by the total revenues generated by the company. As BT reported inaccurate results between 2011 and 2015, it paid lower administration fees throughout this period.

“BT’s cooperation with Ofcom in relation to this investigation has been extensive and productive,” Ofcom said in the report.

“Upon discovery of its error, BT informed Ofcom and committed to remedying the consequences of its error. BT has also undertaken extensive work to ensure that its final resubmitted turnover is complete and accurate; had Ofcom had to carry out this work itself, it is likely to have required significant resource and time to complete.”

Although BT does not have the most glimmering record when it comes to accounting in recent years, the telco did own up to the error rather than Ofcom being informed by a whistle-blower.

GTT to offload assets to cut mounting debts

DCL Search

Senior management at American network operator GTT Communications have admitted that they are seeking to sell-off non-core assets in order to reduce the firm’s $3.2 billion debt burden.

The asset sell-offs would also allow it to focus on cloud networking services, president and CEO Rick Calder said during the firm’s latest quarterly earnings call.

The great sell-off

GTT Communications (formerly Global Telecom & Technology) is headquartered in McLean, Virginia. The company operates a Tier 1 network and provides IP transit and MPLS transport services to enterprise, government, and carrier customers in over 100 countries.

The company’s second-quarter results released last week, however, showed the firm was struggling, with revenue coming in well below analyst expectations, as well as losses growing above anticipated levels.

In the second quarter, GTT reported a net loss of $33.3 million compared to a net loss of $136.3 million the same time last year. This year’s Q2 loss was up from its net loss of $27.3 million in the first quarter, and the growing loss was “primarily the result of non-recurring costs.”

“From the beginning of 2017 until now, we have closed and integrated 10 acquisitions and nearly quadrupled the size of the firm,” Calder said. At the time of publication, GTT had a market cap of $457m.

These acquisitions included GTT buying British network and infrastructure specialist Interoute for $2.3 billion in cashback in February 2018, and last month it also said it was acquiring telco and IT provider KPN International for $56m in cash.

“Each of the companies we acquired had a flat or declining trajectory at the close,” Calder said in the earnings call. “And while we have not yet returned to growth, we have assembled all the right components to return to growth in the future.”

GTT’s troubles may not be entirely over, however.

On Monday, Pomerantz LLP, lawyers specializing in securities issues, announced it is investigating claims on behalf of investors of GTT Communications.

“The investigation concerns whether GTT and certain of its officers and/or directors have engaged in securities fraud or other unlawful business practices,” the law firm said.

 

News for w/c 5th August 2019

The smart city has arrived in Europe – but it isn’t the stuff of science fiction

Channel News Asia

Instead, smart cities are places of intense collaboration among communities, says UCL Institute of Education’s James Ransom.

An abandoned mine shaft beneath the town of Mansfield, England is an unlikely place to shape the future of cities. But here, researchers from University of Nottingham are planning to launch a “deep farm” that could produce ten times as much food as farms above ground.  Deep farms are an example of what the latest wave of smart cities look like: Putting people first by focusing on solving urban problems and improving existing infrastructure, rather than opening shiny new buildings.

These smart cities look nothing like science fiction. In fact, the sleek, futuristic visions often used to promote smart cities tend to alienate residents. Isolated high-tech buildings, streets or cities can foster social inequality, and even free WiFi and bike-sharing schemes mainly benefit the affluent

So instead of chasing ribbon-cutting opportunities in city centres, planners, community leaders and researchers are coming together to tackle mundane but serious issues, such as improving poor quality housing, safeguarding local food supplies and transitioning to renewable energy.

You may already be living in a smart city – here’s what to look out for.

NHS to set up national artificial intelligence lab

BBC

The NHS in England is setting up a national artificial intelligence laboratory to enhance care of patients and research.

The Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, said AI had “enormous power” to improve care, save lives and ensure doctors had more time to spend with patients.

He has announced £250m will be spent on boosting the role of AI within the health service.

However, AI will pose new challenges including protecting patient data.

What can AI do in health?

The advanced computer software is already showing its potential to revolutionise medicine in fields ranging from diagnosing patients, gleaning new insights into diseases and improving how hospitals run.

Artificial intelligences thrive when an algorithm can learn from huge amounts of data to spot patterns.

Medical imaging – where an AI can be trained on thousands of scans – has led the charge.

Increased Government Spend Sees UK Outsourcing Grow

Contact Centres

Increased government spending sees UK outsourcing market rebound in Q2 2019

Outsourcing contracts worth £938 million were signed between April and June, up 34 per cent on Q1, according to the Arvato UK Outsourcing Index.

A rise in government spending saw the UK outsourcing market rebound in Q2 after a quiet first quarter, according to the Arvato UK Outsourcing Index.

The research, compiled by business outsourcing partner Arvato CRM Solutions UK and industry analyst NelsonHall, showed that contracts worth a total of £938 million were signed by UK organisations between April and June, up more than a third (34 per cent) on the previous quarter.

Public sector spending reached £489 million over the three-month period compared with £51 million in Q1, as procurement teams focused on signing contracts to deliver back-office services.

Business process outsourcing (BPO) deals accounted for almost all (98 per cent) of the contracts signed over the period, with customer services, HR and revenues and benefits being the most popular service lines.

Central government departments procured the majority of public sector deals between April and June, according to the findings, signing agreements worth £470 million. Local government buyers were less active over the period, agreeing deals with a total value of £20 million.

The findings show private sector outsourcing spend was dominated by energy and utilities companies, as firms in the sector focused on securing tech contracts. Contracts worth £284 million were signed for application and network management and end user computing. Manufacturing companies were the second highest spenders, with the total value of deals signed reaching £118 million.

Britain won’t have 100% full-fibre by 2025. One horrible – if speculative – version of why not

Computer Weekly

On 24 July 2019, as jubilant Conservative party members emerged from Boris Johnson’s victory speech in Westminster, one supporter was heard to remark Johnson had promised to “insert high-speed broadband into every orifice of every home”.

Earlier in his leadership campaign the tousle-headed presumptive PM had rubbished the government’s target of national full-fibre broadband coverage by 2033, saying Britain needed to ditch its “mañana approach” to broadband and “unleash full-fibre for all” by 2025.

But let’s be honest here. Knowing everything that has happened up to now, every concern over competition, every niggle with BDUK, every broken promise, every bit of spin over fibre-to-the-cabinet, is this new ambition in any way achievable? Will it be met? Can it be met? I don’t think so for one second.

Here’s one horrible, albeit entirely speculative and made up, version of what might happen to stop it…

What does public sector connectivity mean today?

BBC

Paul Doe, Regional Director, MLL Telecom, discusses how public sector connectivity means so much more to local councils than increased bandwidth, looking at how local government can tailor the procurement process to make the most of connectivity contracts to benefit local citizens

Traditionally, local authorities have been limited by poor broadband connectivity. The limitations of their legacy infrastructure has ultimately impacted their digital maturity. Today in a world dominated by digital services, local authorities can no longer afford to offer their citizens subpar connectivity options.

For some local authorities, the value of connectivity today simply equates to delivering good, continuous internet speeds, allowing staff members to access an intranet, or use online portals. But connectivity should deliver so much more than this. It should act as a significant enabler, underpin region-wide digital transformation efforts and make way for smart city initiatives. Effective connectivity should help to digitise many services offered or managed by a council; traffic management for example, or waste collection, and be pivotal in boosting local employment, social and digital inclusion.

Put simply, connectivity should be so much more than just network speeds. But tackling connectivity infrastructure can be a minefield for local authorities, and with so many willing providers and solutions available, it can be easier for public sector organisations to take a laissez-faire approach to enhancing their existing networks.

BT steps up plans for fibre‑optic broadband

The Times

BT signalled a substantial increase in its investment budget after throwing its weight behind the new government’s plan to accelerate the rollout of fibre-optic broadband.

Philip Jansen, chief executive, said that the company was ready to step up the construction of its next generation network. Boris Johnson wants every home and business to be hooked up to the internet through fibre-optic wires by 2025 — eight years earlier than the previous goal.

The company said that it had extended fibre lines to 1.5 million premises and was connecting 20,000 properties a week. However, the government’s ambition could require BT to bring forward substantial sums of planned spending, which would squeeze its finances in the near term.

Broadband chiefs fire back at PM’s full-fibre internet pledge

BBC

The UK’s telecoms industry has issued the prime minister a challenge of its own after Boris Johnson said he wanted full-fibre broadband “for all” by 2025.

An open letter says the target is possible, but only if the government tackles four problems causing delays.

It adds that all of the issues must be resolved “within the next 12 months” to achieve the high-speed internet goal.

But one expert said at least one of the measures was unachievable in that time frame.

Mr Johnson originally declared his desire to deliver the 100% rollout of fibre-optic broadband to properties across the UK “in five years at the outside” in an article for the Telegraph published before he won the leadership vote.

In it, he described the government’s former target of 2033 as being “laughably unambitious”.

BT ready to play part in fibre roll-out, on track after Q1

Yahoo

Britain’s biggest broadband provider, said it was ready to play its part in achieving new Prime Minister Johnson’s ambition to roll-out full-fibre across the country as it beat market expectations for first-quarter trading on Friday.

“On network investment, we welcome the government’s ambition for full fibre broadband across the country and we are confident we will see further steps to stimulate investment,” Chief Executive Philip Jansen said.

 

The dawn of 5G

Investors Chronicle

“Merry Christmas” – the simple, yet pioneering first ever text message – sent in December 1992.

This was the era of second-generation, or ‘2G’ wireless network technology – succeeding the voice-only transmissions of the 1980s, when the cumbersome brick phone was the device du jour

New for w/c 29th July 2019

Openreach Unveil 36 New UK Areas for FTTP Ultrafast Broadband

ISPreview

Network access provider Openreach has today announced that their multi-billion pound “Fibre First” rollout of Gigabit capable Fibre-to-the-Premises broadband ISP technology will – over the next 12 months – be reaching parts of an additional 36 new locations across the UK (total now 74).

The development forms part of the operator’s on-going work to cover 4 million premises (homes and businesses) with “full fibre” FTTP across the United Kingdom by March 2021, which could be extended to 15 million by around 2025 and they may even go beyond that if the conditions are right (e.g. easier wayleave agreements, extension to the business rates holiday etc.).

So far around 1.5 million premises have already been reached and their rollout is continuing to ramp-up (currently passing 20,000 homes and businesses every week). However we should caveat that Openreach doesn’t usually cover 100% of every area they list and unfortunately they haven’t said how many premises will benefit in each location.

In this latest phase Openreach has included the likes of Newcastle, Doncaster, Chelmsford and St Albans, whilst four new locations in Scotland (Kilmarnock in East Ayrshire and Bathgate, Broxburn and Whitburn in West Lothian) have also been prioritised following the Scottish Government’s decision to extend business rates relief on new fibre for a 10 year period; a not so subtle hint that they want the UK Government to follow suit.

As usual you can check out the fibre first roll-out page on their website, which includes a more detailed exchange level roll-out plan for each of the announced locations.

Ofcom begins search for next chief executive

Tech Radar

Sharon White due to leave in 2020

Ofcom has begun the search for a new chief executive to replace Sharon White who will leave her post early next year.

The UK communications regulator has appointed recruiter Russell Reynolds Associates to lead the search and is inviting applications.

“The Ofcom Board now seeks an exceptional leader with considerable skill, experience and strong social purpose to deliver its mission – ensuring people and businesses across the UK have access to high quality, affordable communications services,” said a job listing.

Contractor UK

The Treasury has confirmed what many pubic sector contractors have long-suspected — that the assurance process of 2012 is dead, due to the birth of IR35 reforms in April 2017.

In an ‘off-payroll engagements’ update, officials said that the requirements for public bodies to include contractual provisions and run the assurance process are “no longer necessary.”

For contractors, the removal of the requirements means that, officially, they no longer need to provide evidence of a contract review to assure their engager that they are outside IR35.

For engagers, notably central government departments and their arm’s length bodies, it means they will no longer be monitored for compliance through an annual review process, the results of which used to be presented to parliament.

Instead, both worker and end-user now have their compliance obligations spelt out under the IR35 rules introduced on April 6th 2017, making the ‘PPNs’ of 2012 and 2015 redundant.

Slice of £3.6bn Committed for Great Broadband in 100 UK Towns

der

ISPreview

The UK Government’s new Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has announced a £3.6bn Towns Fund to support an initial 100 towns “so that they will get the improved transport and improved broadband connectivity that they need,” although yesterday’s speech to the Manchester Science and Industry Museum didn’t include any detail.

No doubt the above plan will be used to support Boris’s pledge to have “fantastic full fibre broadband sprouting in every household” by 2025 (currently coverage is 7% of the UK), although he is yet to detail how such a seemingly unachievable date can be met using Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) ISP technology that typically takes a couple of decades or more to rollout.

Three’s 5G network won’t cost you any more than 4G

Techradar

Unlimited 5G data for £22 per month.

Three has announced its 5G pricing in the UK, and the good news is it won’t cost you any more than its current “contract, SIM only and PAYG 4G mobile plans.”

That means it will be cheaper than EE, which charges a premium for its 5G contracts, and there are no speed caps – something Vodafone has introduced with its new unlimited plans which cover you for 4G and 5G. However, both EE and Vodafone have their 5G networks available right now (albeit in limited areas for now).

Three will also offer a 5G unlimited data SIM only plan which will cost £22 per month, however one cost you will have to brunt is that of a 5G-enabled smartphone.

From today, July 26, you’ll be able to buy the 5G from Three, and it joins Sky Mobile and Carphone Warehouse as the first UK retailers to sell the handset after carriers temporarily removed it from their line-ups in the wake of the Huawei ban.

 

Matt Warman MP Appointed to Become New UK Digital Minister UPDATE

ISPreview

Yesterday saw the Government choose Nicky Morgan MP to become the UK’s new Culture Secretary (DCMS) – with responsibility for everything from broadband to media – and reporting to her will be a new Minister of State for DCMS in the shape of Nigel Adams MP and a new Digital Minister, Matt Warman MP.

Nigel (MP for Selby & Ainsty) has previously held political positions related to the Treasury, Housing / Local Government and the Wales Office. On top of that he voted Leave in the EU referendum, which could make for some awkward chats with Nicky Morgan who voted Remain.

Govtech Innovation – the market needs action not just words

Government Computing

In this blog about fostering greater innovation in central government, Rob Anderson, Principal Analyst for Central Government in the GlobalData Public Sector team argues that whilst the recently published strategy offers hope, it fails to inspire confidence that any radical change in buying behaviour is imminent.

Insofar as it goes, the recently published Government Technology Innovation Strategy should be welcomed as an honest statement that Whitehall recognises the benefit of innovative govtech, and is an endorsement of public bodies looking to drive a step change in transformation through the adoption of new technologies. However for a number of reasons, it’s unlikely to stimulate an immediate upsurge in the procurement of such solutions.

Whatever Oliver Dowden and his people in the Cabinet Office would like to think, they are not recognised by front-line departments as Government HQ, so in the current structure will never have a mandate to dictate how and where those bodies spend their money. And for all that Philip Hammond has said on the era of austerity ending, HM Treasury still has a vice-like grip on the public purse strings, so there are insufficient funds to invest in unproven technology.

That’s not to say that departments are ignoring innovation; by no means is that the case and there are plenty of examples of small- to medium-scale programmes in progress. DWP has its Intelligent Automation ‘garage’ and its Innovation dojo; the Home Office has set up an Accelerated Capability Environment (ACE) in conjunction with over 150 partners; HMRC even has a Director of Architecture & Innovation dedicated to addressing the issues. Some of these and other examples from Defra and DVLA are cited as case studies in the strategy document, so the direction of travel is undoubtedly forward. The pace of adoption is lagging though. While the larger government agencies that can squirrel away funds to invest are doing so, those facing the more severe budget cuts can ill afford to take risks, so arguably more central funding needs to be made available.

Playing catch-up: An update on the NHS digital revolution

Open Access Government

Here, Andrew Gardner discusses what is really going on under the surface of the NHS digital revolution and what further needs to happen.

In the last year, there have been several moves by NHS England towards increasing the provision of digital health services. It comes amidst pressure on budgets and services, with the NHS now looking for ways to both save money and continue providing high-quality services for patients. With healthcare one of the last sectors to adopt technological change, it is far behind other industries.

The recent NHS 10-year plan and the 5-year GP contract signify a shift in policy thinking; how we can explore the possibilities that digital health has to offer, such as through digital triage and video GP consultations. I’ve worked in tech and digital healthcare for many years, now serving as CEO of Doctorlink, a digital health start-up working with the NHS. In my career, I’ve seen how digital and process transformation can benefit organisations significantly, improving quality and reducing cost at the same time, so this focus on digital has been a welcome change.

Of course, it is one thing to promise that digital health can improve the NHS, it’s another to deliver it. To achieve its goal, the NHS can learn a lot from how other countries have used digital innovations to improve healthcare. For example, Israel has become a world leader in storing health data. The Israeli government recently announced a $300 million initiative to build upon decades of progress in collating health data. The large grouping of anonymised data can be made available to medical institutions and academics, assisting researchers in developing new treatments and ascertain more accurate information, utilising machine learning algorithms to do so.

GDS uses machine learning for GOV.UK links

UK Authority

The GOV.UK product team in the Government Digital Service (GDS) has been testing a machine learning algorithm to generate links of related content during a search.

It says it should help users to find information that comes from sources beyond GOV.UK pages, otherwise known as its ‘Whitehall’ content.

Senior product manager Ganesh Senthi has outlined the project in a blogpost, which says it is part of the effort to help users move on from information they have landed on easily, largely from an external search engine.

The Whitehall content accounts for about 98% of what can be found on GOV.UK, as opposed to the ‘mainstream’ content that accounts for just 2%, but 57% of the page views.

Senthis says the machine learning algorithm is aimed at identifying the Whitehall content and related links, giving content designers much more time to make sure it is well written and user focused.

GDS has A/B tested three algorithms across all of the GOV.UK content, looking for signs of them generating an increase in clicks on related links. This led it to identify one through which it has now run all of its content over three weeks to obtain a view of user journeys.

News for w/c 22nd July 2019

Institute of Directors calls new PM for faster rollout of 5G and Local Fibre

IOD

The new Prime Minister faces an intimidating in-tray of economic challenges. Of these, the UK’s deep regional divides may be the most deeply ingrained.

Disparate experiences of globalisation and technological change have made the UK one of the most geographically imbalanced economies in Europe. Regional differences in skills, business support, and investment are limiting the nation’s overall potential.

To help address this and find ways to reinvigorate the regions and nations, the IoD drew upon an IoD Policy Voice survey of over 1,000 of our members, interviews with stakeholders across the UK, and insights from our regional and policy teams to produce a new report, Connected Economies, People, and Places. The report, authored by IoD Chief Economist Tej Parikh, makes a series of fresh recommendations to drive up competitiveness as we leave the EU.

To date, the Industrial Strategy has offered a valuable starting point on the regional growth agenda, but the report argues that the UK will need the institutional structures and long-term funding channels to deliver it effectively. Local areas will also require greater autonomy, to invest in their specialisms and to create more responsive local labour markets and business support systems up and down the country. Policymakers will also have to think outside the box to help regenerate rural, coastal and post-industrial parts of the country with investment incentives and support to showcase opportunities beyond London and the Southeast.

From promise to delivery: Overcoming the strategy problem in the public sector

McKinsey

To deliver better strategies and outcomes, governments need to tackle social dynamics in the cabinet room.

The purpose of government is to improve the lives of citizens and make society better off for the future. That is true in every aspect of public-sector responsibility, from healthcare reforms that attempt to enhance patient well-being to efforts to reduce carbon emissions and initiatives to promote economic growth. As a result, government leaders often paint a “hockey stick” into the future; after an initial period of little change, sharp improvements in performance are forecast two or three years in the future.

Unfortunately, few governments are able to deliver the promised impact. Yet that does not deter public-sector planners from making equally bold forecasts for subsequent years. As a result, unrealized hockey sticks string together and the ugly cousin of the hockey stick appears, the “hairy back.” Exhibit 1 shows that this effect is not an isolated phenomenon. Hockey sticks are drawn repeatedly, for everything from global economic growth projections to country-level productivity growth to unemployment reduction to cost estimates of major infrastructure projects. The optimistic projections continue, even in the face of actual results that have stayed roughly flat—or worsened.

Why does this happen? The book Strategy Beyond the Hockey Stick shines a spotlight on the human biases and social games that result in hockey sticks and hairy backs in the private sector—and hold the majority of companies back from effective strategy development and execution.

The public-sector context is very different: at first glance it may seem that the lessons from private-sector strategy have little relevance for governments. Yet the dynamics in the cabinet room are not so different from those in the board room. Social games are perhaps even more deep-seated in the public sector than in private firms—and they often prevent governments from shaping and executing clear strategies to turn their forecasts into reality.

Networks may not destroy us, but they won’t save us

Pulse Today

Anyone who has visited their GP recently will be aware of the pressures: the struggle to get an appointment, the difficulty of seeing the same GP more than once, the rush to get you out of the door for the next patient.

The crisis in general practice is unprecedented, with more than half of all GPs regarding their morale as either low or very low, and over half considering early retirement. Thus, we could find ourselves in a scenario of not having enough GPs to replace the ones leaving the NHS, which would, of course, have terrible impacts on patient care. And at the end of the day, patients are why we entered the profession, and amid all the political changes, remain our upmost concern and reliable constant. 

The proportion of GPs serving every 100,000 people has dropped from 70 in 2009/10 to 66.5 now. The health secretary (possibly only until 24th July…) Matt Hancock fails to understand the severity of the situation facing general practice in England.

There has been systematic underinvestment in general practice, relative to hospitals, for at least a decade. During this time, the job of a GP has become considered unattractive, largely thanks to its heavy workload and the stresses of seemingly relentless criticism in the media.

Cityfibre Confirm 14 UK Towns and Cities for Phase 2 FTTH Rollout

ISPreview

Cityfibre has today confirmed the next 14 UK cities and towns (only three are new additions) to benefit from Phase Two their £2.5bn rollout of a new Gigabit capable Fibre-to-the-Home broadband network, which is being supported by residential ISP partner Vodafone and aims to cover 5 million premises by 2025.

The £2.5bn project was first announced last October 2018, which included a list of the 37 towns and cities being targeted and today’s announcement effectively brings this to 41 with the addition of Inverness, Ipswich and Lowestoft. As usual these are all locations where Cityfibre already has or will soon have a Dark Fibre network to build outwards from (initially used for connecting public sector and / or business sites).

Cambridgeshire to expand and open up fibre network

UK Authority

Cambridgeshire County Council and the University of Cambridge have created a joint venture company to expand and exploit the county’s digital infrastructure.

Named Light Blue Fibre, it is bringing in technical experts from the university and making both organisations’ duct and fibre networks, totalling over 100km, available on a commercial basis.

It is aiming to attract telecoms companies, infrastructure providers and local technology businesses that are looking to use full fibre networks without heavy investment.

Cambridgeshire’s commercial and investment committee supported the setting up of the company in February, and the joint venture agreement was signed in May.

Both organisations have plans to expand their duct and fibre assets. The council recently approved a policy to include fibre ducting in the construction of all new major roads, footway and cycle paths.

The university owns the Granta Backbone Network that covers a large part of the city and radiates out to strategic locations.

Most security pros still concerned about public cloud security

Computer Weekly

Despite accelerated adoption of public cloud services by companies keen to benefit from increased efficiency, scalability and agility, most security professionals have reservations.

An overwhelming majority of cyber security professionals (93%) say they are moderately to highly concerned about public cloud security, a survey reveals.

Only 3% of respondents said they were not concerned, while 4% said they were slightly concerned. While 18% said they were moderately concerned, roughly the same proportion said they were “very concerned” (37%) or “extremely concerned” (38%), according to a poll by Synopsys of 400,000 members of the Cybersecurity Insiders information security community.

Although cloud providers offer increasingly robust security measures, the survey report notes that customers are ultimately responsible for securing their workloads in the cloud.

Public Technology

Postholder will play ‘a critical role’ in designing department’s networks.

The Department for Work and Pensions is offering an annual salary of £105,000 in its bid to recruit a head of hybrid cloud services.

The chosen candidate will sit at the head of a team of about 100 people who are “focused on providing a portfolio of hosting products and services to support the transformation of DWP applications”.

The hybrid cloud head “will play a critical role in design, build and operation of the department’s strategic hosting environments in hyperscale public cloud providers as well as its on-premises hosting infrastructure”.  The successful applicant will work with other senior managers in DWP’s digital and tech team, as well as representatives of other departments.

MPs add to criticisms of Emergency Services Network

UK Authority

Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has said it is not convinced that the Home Office has turned around the long delayed Emergency Services Network (ESN) programme.

It has published  that predicts further delays and cost increases, saying the delivery plan is not sufficiently robust and the department lacks the skills to make it work.

The report intensifies the pressure on the Home Office following the National Audit Office’s  of the programme in its own report.

The programme to deliver the ESN – the communications network for emergency services to replace Airwave – is now three years late and expected to cost at least £3.1 billion more than £6.2 billion originally estimated.

The PAC report says the Home Office’s original approach was far too optimistic given the level of risk, with insufficient governance arrangements, and the ‘reset’ announced in 2018 has not done enough. There are still substantial levels of technical and commercial risk and a lack of confidence among services that will use the network.

Glasgow to test 5G for public transport

UK Authority

Glasgow City Council is taking part in a project to test the use of augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) harnessing 5G for public transport.

The technology is to be used to provide ‘infotainment’ services in a demonstrator on the Glasgow Metro, following a first use on the Seoul Metro in South Korea.

This follows its winning bid for £2.4 million in support – half from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and half from the South Korean Government – to explore the use of 5G on transport systems.

Glasgow is taking part as a member of the 5G RailNext consortium, which also includes Cisco, the University of Strathclyde and British SMEs Soluis and Ampletime.

The project will run from next month until March 2021 and involve providing services including travel information, video streaming and gaming through wearable devices such as headsets.

It has won backing as part of the Government’s £200 million 5G Testbeds and Trials Progamme, aimed at boosting the ecosystem for the technology in the UK.

News for w/c 8th July

Public Technology

Department signs ‘digital charter’ with 15 companies

The relocation of HM Revenue and Customs into 13 hubs around the country will see the department move into what it claims are “some of the most digitally advanced buildings in government”.

HMRC’s Estates directorate, which is overseeing the ongoing development and population of the new locations, has signed a “digital charter” with 15 companies involved in the construction and ongoing maintenance of the buildings. 

The signatories are: Atalian Servest; Aecom; Styles & Wood; Bellrock; BW; Interserve; White Young Green; ISG; Overbury; Faithful & Gould; Sodexo; Mace; Wates; Turner & Townsend; and BAM.

By signing the charter, the firms in question have agreed to focus on “maximising the use of data and implementing the latest digital technology, including smart technology where systems interact with each other,” according to HMRC.

The charter forms part of the HMRC’s Estates Digital Blueprint, which is designed to help ensure that staff make use of the latest technology, including mobile apps. The blueprint “will also deliver data and insight to support the right decisions being made at the right time during construction and operations” of the new hubs. This process will involve data – such as the comparative use of various areas in its existing locations – being used to inform “architectural and design decisions” during the construction of the hubs.

Amazon Alexa-NHS partnership splits expert opinion

BBC

Worried about a lump? Got a nasty cough that won’t budge? Many people Google queries about such symptoms daily – but now they can get NHS advice instantly by asking Amazon’s Alexa.

The voice-activated assistant is now automatically searching NHS web pagesto find answers to medical questions.

And the government hopes it will reduce the demand on human doctors.

But the move has split opinion among artificial intelligence (AI) experts and data ethicists.

“The sensitive data holdings of a national healthcare provider like the NHS are a form of ‘critical social infrastructure’,” said Berlin-based tech expert Mathana Stender.

“Yet they’ve been handed to a foreign company that’s both a defence contractor and targeted advertiser,”

NHS GP David Wrigley asked, among other things, whether the questions asked via Alexa would be encrypted and who would store any data relating to patient queries.

How to Create the Team Cohesion Needed for Digital Transformation

Chief Executive

Digital transformation is easier said than done. Companies know it takes a serious investment of time, energy, money, and will, yet they are still often caught off-guard by the scope of the effort. For that reason, far more companies start transformations than finish them.

One resource that is often missing is buy-in, but not from the source you probably expect. While the focus is often getting executives on board with digital-first initiatives, it’s the front-line staff who really need to be engaged. Recent research found that 84% of executives are committed to transformation compared to just 45% of lower-level workers.

Digital transformation depends on engagement at all levels because companies need the broadest perspective throughout this process. An executive in charge of operations, for example, has a much different perspective from someone who works in the field. However, both are valuable because together they reveal what the “digital-first version” of your company actually looks like.

Get a variety of stakeholders in the room together, and you’ll see a synergy you never expected. New ideas are born out of thin air as people combine their needs to create a holistic solution. The goal is digitization, but it’s driven by the needs of people.

White paper highlights NHS cyber vulnerabilities

UKAuthority

Imperial College London’s Institute of Global Health Innovation (IGHI) has sounded the warning in Improving Cyber Security in the NHS, based on evidence from NHS organisations and examples of previous attacks – the most high profile being the spread of the WannaCry virus that disrupted at least 81 out of England’s 236 NHS trusts in May 2017.

The paper says the NHS is vulnerable to due to a combination of outdated computer systems, lack of investment and a deficit of skills and awareness in cyber security.

Among the problems it identifies is the complexity of accountabilities for cyber security. For example, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) receives information about a cyber attack from NHS Digital and the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC), which can make the information transfer complex and cumbersome.

While there is a set of data security protection requirements for different networks, there are no detailed specifications. And while NHS Digital collects information on cyber incidents, it is not statistically evaluated to build an understanding of risks and threats.

UK hits 8% full fibre coverage

Think Broadband

Whether the UK is to stay with existing ambition of 50% coverage of full fibre by 2025 or increase this ambition to bringing forward the 100% full fibre date of 2033 to 2025 looks very difficult to comprehend when we are getting mildly excited that the actual coverage has increased to 8%.

The UK hit 8.02% full fibre coverage on Monday 1st July when we updated the online stats for the start of July and with the daily updates on our internal system we are recording a total of 8.08%. 

8% looks inconsequential but the pace of roll-out has changed significantly with half of the roll-out appearing in the last 12 months and with roll-outs from firms such as Openreach, Hyperoptic, Vodafone Gigafast (built by CityFibre), Community Fibre ramping up.

Of course premises passed is just part of the story, no point in having an area with 100% coverage and no-one buying the service or companies refusing to connect people, so as well as tracking the premises passed the next year or two are crucial in seeing how much take-up there is and whether the various FTTP companies have the resources to both pass and connect homes and businesses.

NHS creating its own ‘G-Cloud’ for digital services

Computing

NHS CIO Will Smart tells Computing that the organisation is in the midst of creating NHS-wide procurement frameworks for IT services

The NHS is in the process of creating an organisation-wide procurement framework for IT services, similar to the G-Cloud digital marketplace set up for Central Government.

NHS CIO Will Smart admitted that it’s unusual for the NHS to make any organisation-wide purchases, but admitted that it is setting up a system to enable it to negotiate better deals with suppliers.

“You will see us doing more NHS-wide procurement frameworks,” Smart began. “We will use the commercial scale of the NHS to strike the best possible deal with vendors, but allow local organisations pull off the most appropriate solution. And we’ll do that at a core technology level.”

Public Technology

Over the past decade, tech-minded government reformers have pursued two main objectives: digitisation and disaggregation.

While digitisation is the sleek and seductive storefront of transformation, disaggregation serves as the back office and the goods warehouse. The former has seen departments, guided by the Government Digital Service, build ways to deliver hundreds of citizen services online, while also digitising many of government’s own internal processes. Supporting this have been concerted efforts to reimagine the way the civil service – and the wider public sector – buys and deploys technology. The ambition is to do away with the old long-term, multibillion-pound deals that were, invariably, awarded to just a handful of global IT giants.

Having broken up these contracts – a process otherwise known as disaggregation – the goal is to replace them with numerous smaller deals and, in doing so, enable innovative SME specialists to work with government in a way that was not possible in years gone by.

In the gamut of technology careers, working in procurement will never be towards the glamorous end. But, during the transformation efforts of recent years, the Crown Commercial Service has been the yin to the GDS yang: a necessary complement needed to make a whole of two halves.

CCS took its current form in 2014 when the centralised Government Procurement Service was expanded and strengthened by the inclusion of buying management teams from individual departments. This was two years after both the creation of GDS and the launch of the first G-Cloud framework – a streamlined commercial vehicle allowing for easier purchase of cloud services.

And while the work of the procurement agency may not always capture the imagination in the same way as its Cabinet Office stablemate, CCS can put up some pretty impressive numbers to demonstrate its effectiveness: its 2017-18 annual report reveals that the organisation enabled cumulative cost savings of £601m for a total of 17,000 public sector buyers.

Niall Quinn, technology director at CCS, tells CSW: “CCS was set up to save people money; there is money saved through using our frameworks, and there’s money saved through further competition [between prospective suppliers]. Further competition is key. So, we want much more of that across all of our frameworks, because that’s real and demonstrated.”

But, he adds, CCS’s work is not just about saving money – it’s about value. “If we educate people about how to use our framework better… and educate suppliers about how to bid better as well, then you have [everything] meeting in the middle to create value – namely appropriate skills, delivered to the right problem and solving it – at the right price.”

Over half a million homes now using full-fibre as access improves

Computer Weekly

Ofcom’s latest Communications Market Report examines key trends in the UK’s broadband and mobile market, and finds that access to faster broadband is expanding rapidly across all delivery mechanisms.

The number of active full-fibre – or fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) – broadband connections in the UK grew from 320,000 to 510,000 during 2018, reflecting the gathering pace of the national full-fibre roll-out, which is bringing the technology within physical reach of more homes, according to Ofcom’s latest Communications Market Report.

The annual report highlighted growth across the broadband market as Brits rushed to upgrade to faster broadband services, mostly to access subscription on-demand video services such as Amazon Prime Video and Netflix.

Vodafone switches on 5G mobile network

Computer Weekly

The UK’s longest-standing mobile operator, Vodafone, has officially turned on its 5G mobile network at an event in London, and reintroduced unlimited data packages for users as it looks to shake up the market.

Mobile network operator Vodafone has officially launched its 5G mobile network service at an event in the City of London, with UK chief executive Nick Jeffery and reigning Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton pushing the ceremonial big red button, marking the culmination of a multi-year, £4.5bn transformation and preparation programme for the operator.

News w/c 24th June 2019

NHS Wales flings £39m at Microsoft for Office 365 and Windows 10

The Register

Far away, my Office is calling… Outlook alerts do chime

The Welsh, it seems, just cannot get enough of Microsoft as 100,000 NHS staff across the country are set to receive a bucketload of the company’s productivity wares. comes hot on the heels of a £1.2m deal to see 1,521 “maintained” schools in the region getting their sticky fingers on Office 365 ProPlus.

While nearly half a million young people, aged between three and 19, were set to benefit from the education scheme, the NHS agreement is aimed at a good deal fewer people for considerably more cash.

As well as Office 365, lucky staff will also receive Windows 10 as part of the E5 subscription.

 

Revenue and profits tumble at Redcentric

Channel Web

MSP makes interim CEO permanent and appoints new CFO

Redcentric has seen its full-year revenue drop below £100m, despite a successful H2. The AIM-listed MSP reported a tumble of 6.7 per cent to £93.3m for its year ending 31 March 2019. Its EBITDA also…

‘Just about any Brexit will damage UK economy’

Public Finance

A think-tank has warned most forms of Brexit will damage the UK economy – while the Office for National Statistics has predicted borrowing will increase this financial year. 

A report from the think-tank UK in a Changing Europe has said that “most forms of Brexit will worsen the government’s fiscal position, probably significantly” and added that this will impact on policy initiatives and the timing of the Spending Review.

The study predicted that economic damage would disproportionately hit those in the country who are already worse off.

“The impacts of Brexit on regions and sectors are, if anything, likely to disadvantage those which are already lagging behind,” it said.

NHSX completes tech review and sets its mission

The HTN

In a recent blog published by NHSX ahead of its official launch, the organisation announced it has completed a major review of NHS tech spending, with some programmes to close, merge and some that have naturally come to an end.

Over the past few weeks NHSX CEO Matthew Gould has traveled around the country to hear from frontline staff, Gould said “As I’ve travelled round lots of different parts of the NHS in the past few weeks, clear patterns emerge. Number one is the need for interoperability. Too many NHS systems can’t talk to each other. It could be a blood test taken in one part of the NHS that can’t be viewed in another, a GP’s system that doesn’t update when a hospital switches a patient’s medication, a mental health crisis team who have no idea the patient also has a heart condition.”

“Our siloed systems put patient safety at risk because clinicians end up treating patients without the full information. They stifle innovation because developers can’t build on them.”

“We also know that too many clinicians are frustrated by clunky tech getting in the way of their ability to do their job.  Across the country, doctors, nurses, dentists, social workers and others – all stretched and time-poor – are wasting huge amounts of time on painfully slow log- ins, fighting with old kit, or having to remember dozens of different passwords over the course of their day.”

Following the review by NHSX the organisation set its mission to reduce the burden on clinicians and staff, so they can focus on patients, giving people the tools to access information, improve productivity and ensure clinical information can be safely accessed, wherever it is needed.

Innovation Summit – Tech Will Automate 90% of Our Procurement Decisions within 3 Years

Spend Matters

I hadn’t realised that Denmark is internationally recognised as a leader in several aspects of innovation, including clean technology, biotech and IT. It’s no surprise then that Tradeshift chose to host their 2019 Innovation Summit in Copenhagen. Add to that the fact that Copenhagen is the ‘birthplace’ of Tradeshift and you have a good springboard for a two-day immersion with their customers, prospects, and team members from across the globe and functions.

UK geodata and digital chiefs to step down

Goblal Government Forum

The heads of the UK’s digital unit and its geospatial data strategy are both to leave their jobs, with digital chief Kevin Cunnington moving to a new role promoting UK government services to public sectors overseas.

On Friday the Cabinet Office announced that Thalia Baldwin is to become director of the Geospatial Commission, following an open competition. She is to replace William Priest, who founded the commission following his appointment last year.

Why are UK cities finding it so hard to become SMART?

Business Leader

The term ‘Smart Cities’ is frequently used but will mean different things to different people. In this report, Business Leader looks at what a Smart City is and investigates why UK cities are so far behind their global counterparts.

A ‘Smart City’ might conjure up futuristic images of flying cars, high spec tech and a large metropolis straight out of a sci-fi movie, but the reality is that it has real world applications that are taking over the world’s major business regions.

Smart city developments are designed to incorporate all facets of data, telecoms and people-centric technology to enhance the quality and performance of urban services.

Whether it is transport links, utility services, or a way for businesses and homes to reduce wastage and cost – smart city applications are the future for major cities across the world.

Carrier services help expand healthcare, with 5G in the offing

Network World

Many telehealth initiatives tap into wireless networking supplied by service providers that may start offering services such as Citizen’s Band and 5G to support remote medical care.

There are connectivity options aplenty for most types of IoT deployment, but the idea of simply handing the networking part of the equation off to a national licensed wireless carrier could be the best one for certain kinds of deployments in the medical field.

Telehealth systems, for example, are still a relatively new facet of modern medicine, but they’re already among the most important applications that use carrier networks to deliver care. One such system is operated by the University of Mississippi Medical Center, for the treatment and education of diabetes patients.

Virgin Media Preparing New Cloud UI for Hub 3 Broadband Routers

ISPreview

Customers of UK cable TV and broadband ISP Virgin Media may soon be getting a new User Interface (UI) for their Hub 3.0 wireless routers, which is currently being trialled. The new “Cloud Connect” UI is described as offering a seamless and real-time “Netflix like” cloud based experience.

The use of the word “cloud” tends to denote some sort of remote web-based management system (i.e. controlling your router remotely over the internet or via an app), which may well build on the changes that were introduced as part of their recent “Intelligent Wi-Fi” upgrade; the latter was similarly described as being a “smart cloud-based, adaptive system“.

News w/c 17th June 2019

£7.8 million to drive forward innovative ideas to transform railways

Gov.uk

The UK’s rail network is set to become more efficient, greener and cleaner thanks to new funding for innovative ideas.

  • drones to inspect tracks, a sound-bending wall to cut noise pollution and plans for the first testing of a hydrogen-powered train are among 24 schemes awarded funding
  • projects will receive a share of up to £7.8 million in government funding for use on the rail network
  • innovative ideas are set to make the UK rail network more efficient, greener and cleaner

Drones capable of inspecting railway infrastructure, hydrogen train trials and a sound-bending wall to cut noise pollution are among 24 winning projects in the third round of the First of a Kind (FOAK) competition, unveiled by the Department for Transport today (13 June 2019).

Run by Innovate UK and funded by the DfT to support research, development and innovation in the UK rail industry, the competition seeks innovative ideas that can be adapted to transform rail travel.

Strengthening resilience of railway infrastructure and operations, enhancing rail freight services, and reducing environmental and noise impacts were the themes for this round. Each of the winning schemes will receive between £250,000 and £350,000.

NHS needs ‘trusting’ partnerships with industry to accelerate innovation

Digital Health

The NHS needs “deep, trusting” partnerships with industry to remain at the forefront of cutting-edge health innovation, Baroness Nicola Blackwood has said.

Speaking the Association of British HealthTech Industries (ABHI) UK Market Conference earlier this month, Blackwood, who is the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Health and Social Care, said the UK needs to be “relentless” in its drive to ensure its place at the cutting edge of health innovation.

To achieve this, the government’s life science sector needs to continue supporting healthtech SMEs to scale up.

“We are looking at how healthtech companies can access the finances they need and creating a finance innovation ecosystem which promotes collaboration between the NHS and industry, to ensure new technologies meet NHS priorities and therefore have a ready-made market within the UK,” she said.

Public Technology

Department opts not to award framework deal worth up to £350m after near-draw between two bidders

The Foreign Office hof a framework voice and data connectivity deal with an estimated value of between £75m and £350m.

The five-year contract, carried out in association with the Department for International Development and the British Council, would have provided connectivity services to about 550 sites in 170 countries, connecting UK head offices to embassies, consulates and other overseas offices.

“Following a procurement process for global telecommunications services, the outcome between the first and second placed bidders was deemed to be so close that it was decided not to award a contract from the procurement,” the Foreign Office told PublicTechnology.

“We are now undertaking a review of our technology and commercial strategies before deciding how to come back out to market for these services.”

5G testbeds programme gets £40million funding boost

Digital Health

Initiatives testing how 5G can improve health and social care are to benefit from a further £40million investment in the testbeds programme.

The testbeds and trials programme, announced in early 2018, has driven improved mobile connectivity in multiple industries, including healthcare.

Liverpool 5G Health and Social Care is one of the projects that’s benefited from funding in the past, with a number of projects in place including a loneliness gaming and quiz app which connects people with learning disabilities.

Announcing the new wave of funding at the 5G World Conference as part of London Tech Week, digital secretary, Jeremy Wright said: “As part of our modern Industrial Strategy, we’re making sure that Britain has a telecoms infrastructure that is fit for the future.

CityFibre and SSE Enterprise Telecoms announce new ethernet partnership at Connected Britain

DCL Search

CityFibre has announced a new partnership with SSE Enterprise Telecoms, whereby the company will become an Edge Plus strategic partner for Ethernet services.

“Partnering with SSE Enterprise Telecoms was not only beneficial to increase demand in the market, but culturally, our two organisations are well suited, both being guided by a strong entrepreneurial spirit and a need to disrupt the market. As a result, we’ll be able to take advantage of SSE Enterprise Telecoms’ extensive network reach and customer base to increase demand for full fibre, metro-based services,” CityFibre told Total Telecom at the Connected Britain event in London today. 

CityFibre is set to become an Edge Plus provider for Ethernet services from SSE Telecom. The deal will see CityFibre’s ethernet services added to SSE Enterprise Telecoms’ price comparison tool LIVEQUOTE, offering customers a far greater choice when selecting a last-mile service provider.

As part of the deal, SSE Enterprise Telecoms’ customers will gain access to 15 CityFibre networks, five of which are already live with a further ten to be added in the next few months.

UK unveils Technology Innovation Strategy

Global Government Forum

The UK government has published its Technology Innovation Strategy, which sets out how it will implement digital technology to improve service delivery.

The Cabinet Office’s minister for implementation, Oliver Dowden, announced the national strategy last week, in a speech at the launch of London Tech Week.

“The UK has led the world in harnessing technology to transform public services, but we cannot afford to sit back,” he said. “Adoption of new technologies by the private sector is changing how people live their lives and the public sector has to pick up the pace to stay relevant.”

The document is split into three sections focusing on:

  • recruitment and up-skilling the existing workforce;
  • providing an environment for experimentation; and
  • ensuring up-to-date technology and access to useful data.

 

Rapid TV News

In a UK first, and providing a boost to IPTV adoption, full-fibre infrastructure provider and ISP Truespeed is to start offering residential customers an Active Ethernet 10Gbps-capable full fibre service.

As a way of explaining the advantages of such networks, the company notes that unlike with 10Gbps PON-based networks where the fibre-optic beam is split between customers on a segment of the network causing contention, Truespeed’s Active Ethernet network delivers a dedicated 10Gbps link to every individual customer, thus maximising throughput and so potentially boosting considerably experiences for applications such as video streaming and TV.

Truespeed already offers residential customers in the rural South-West connection speeds of between 100Mbps and 1Gbps and has plans to expand beyond this region over time. It has just completed a small pilot deployment with the new 10Gbps-capable residential fibre Ethernet switch from Danish vendor DKT A/S and plans to offer it to residential customers alongside the current 1Gbps box over the course of 2019.

UK May Get ‘Thousands’ of 5G New Entrants Under Proposed Shake-Up by Ofcom

Light Reading

The future 5G opportunity for UK operators appeared to shrink today after regulatory authority Ofcom announced dramatic plans to sell licenses to “thousands” of 5G new entrants, imitating moves that have already been made in Germany and several other markets.

Under proposals unveiled at today’s 5G World event in London, Ofcom would reserve 390MHz of valuable “mid-band” spectrum between 3.8GHz and 4.2GHz for local coverage and campus use. If the scheme takes off, anyone could apply for a 5G license covering an area of just 50 square meters and develop their own local 5G network.

That could be done in partnership with a mobile network operator, but it could also be through an equipment vendor or startup, said Mansoor Hanif, Ofcom’s chief technology officer, describing the proposals as “revolutionary” during a presentation at today’s event.

Liverpool carers celebrate the role new technology’s playing in helping them overcome loneliness

Liver 5G testbed

Unpaid carers from Liverpool say loneliness prevention device, “Push to Talk” has helped them overcome social isolation.

Push to Talk is a new technology that connects unpaid carers to chat to each other, at the press of a button, at any time of the day.

Carers spoke about the innovative technology at an event to mark Carers’ Week (June 10-16 2019) at The Isla Gladstone Conservatory, Liverpool.

Mary Brandt from Kensington was introduced to the Push to Talk device by her Local Solutions team and says it’s brought her great comfort: “When Chris from Local Solutions came with the Push to Talk box my family said, ‘what do you need that for?’ I told them it was for carers in the same situation as me, people caring and living on their own who don’t always have somebody to talk to.

“I love using it. I contact other carers and we talk and have a laugh, it does everybody good. We don’t always talk to each other about our problems, we just chat.”

She added: “ My son who I cared for, for many years, doesn’t live with me any more, although I see him a lot of him. When I cared for him I hid it from people at work as I knew their thoughts about people with mental illnesses and didn’t want my son talked about that way. It made me feel quite lonely. When I met with people from Liverpool Carers Centre, Local Solutions, who introduced me to Push to Talk, I felt like they were giving a voice to the carers.”

News w/c 10th June 2019

Public Technology

Group representing all councils in the capital launches the London Office of Technology and Innovation.

London Councils, a group representing all 33 local authorities across the capital has claimed the newly launched London Office of Technology and Innovation (LOTI) will kick-start a “new era of digital transformation” for the city.

LOTI – the creation of which was first detailed in the mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s smart-city strategy published in October 2018 – has now been formally launched. It has been established with “a mission of fostering radical and effective ideas for the benefit of citizens, communities and businesses”. 

It will begin by focusing on a handful of projects, including taking a digital apprenticeship scheme developed by Hackney Council and implementing it in other parts of the city. 

LOTI will also look to make it easier for innovative tech suppliers to engage with government by establishing a “a single online source for all council projects”.

The organisation – whose agenda will, for the time being, be set by the “15 founding boroughs who form the core LOTI group” – will also seek to create and implement a framework to better enable local authorities to share data in a secure and ethical way. 

Public Technology

Other initiatives unveiled in hotly anticipated strategy include pledge to send more civil servants on private-sector secondment.

The long-awaited Government Technology Innovation Strategy includes a pledge to develop a government-wide understanding of Whitehall’s legacy technology estate and “put in place plans to tackle it”.

The strategy was first announced in August, when it was revealed that a dedicated team within the Government Digital Service had been established to deliver the strategy and spearhead government information more widely. The document, which originally scheduled to publish by the end of March, has now been released.

Its proposals are split into three categories: people; process; and data and technology.

The last of these centres on the plan to “develop a detailed cross-government view of the scale of the challenge of legacy technology, put in place plans to tackle it, and make sure there is continuous improvement in our technology estate”.

The strategy added: “Legacy technology and infrastructure will always exist and new will always become old. We need to proactively manage legacy systems so that they do not become urgent issues. We can do this through continuous improvement by learning while systems are being used, and by continuous maintenance, staying ahead of threats and actively managing risks. We must understand more about what our legacy looks like and where it is, so we can build a roadmap for the future.”

New marketplace improves public sector access to latest tech

Public Sector Executive

The Government has launched a new marketplace for innovation, providing a smarter way for public sector customers to access the very latest technologies.

Spark: The Technology Innovation Marketplace has been designed by Crown Commercial Service (CCS) to support cutting edge products and markets that aren’t catered for in traditional commercial agreements.

Spark will enable customers to use new but proven technologies which can drive public service innovation and cost-savings across the public sector.

Seven suppliers have already signed up to offer their goods and services, which could include innovative solutions in AI, the Internet of Things and wearable technology. The DPS remains open for applications and suppliers with suitable technologies are encouraged to apply.

Thousands of hospital visits avoided because of NHS ‘Skype Doctors”

Healthtech Digital

Ambulance call-outs and hospital visits have been drastically reduced with the help of NHS doctors and nurses who are using Skype to help nursing home staff, wardens and carers to treat and help elderly people in their homes.

8000 Skype calls are received by the on-call Skype NHS team annually, and NHS Skype consultations have already prevented 3000 unnecessary A&E visits, as well as 2000 GP visits in the last 2 years alone. Ambulance call-outs have been drastically reduced, not only avoiding the distress of an emergency trip to the hospital, but also freeing up resources for other emergency situations.

£1.3m and hundreds of hours have been freed up by using this technology as part of the NHS Long Term Plan in Tameside, in the Greater Manchester. The NHS also plan to implement the programme of integrated services across the UK. The technology is helping to improve the work load of NHS staff, and is also providing quicker and more efficient help to patients with urgent needs.

The NHS Long Term Plan commits to using the scheme to provide improved, more convenient care to residents at home and providing quality support to health and social services using the digital technology.

Prof Stephen Powis, NHS England Medical Director, said: “Putting every person’s individual care needs at the centre of joined-up services, supported by smart technology, is the heart of our Long Term Plan for the NHS.

Industry View: GP IT Contract and Internet First

The Health Newspaper

At the recent King’s Fund Conference, Matt Hancock announced a new update to the GP IT contract and a move from private networks to an internet first approach.

We asked the industry for their views on these announcements and what it would mean to them.

Contributors include: X-on, Sectra, Siilo, Echo, Spirit Health, Refero and Innopsis.

Jane Rendall, President, Sectra UK (Imaging App provider)

Matt Hancock’s announcement that the NHS will move away from N3 and HSCN networks to run services over the internet could have significant implications for NHS diagnostic departments across the country. 

Joost Bruggeman, Co-Founder of Siilo (Messaging App provider)

Moving away from private networks such as N3 and HSCN in favour of an internet-first policy is an important first step towards a more collaborative NHS – an NHS looking to adopt and share digital health solutions and, ultimately, improve patient outcomes.

Stephen Bourke, Co-Founder, Echo (Prescription App provider)

This is a positive step for the HealthTech start-up community. For too long data silos have held back innovation, frustrating interoperability and the NHS from delivering the type of services that patients expect in 2019.

Paul Bensley, Managing Director, X-on (Cloud Voice provider)

It is welcome that the new GP IT Futures framework will help to ensure that GPs benefit from the best technology, which quite rightly should adapt to meet their needs.

Chris Barker, CEO Spirit Health Group (Clinical App provider)

The move to cloud computing, including HSCN and a new GP IT contract, will enable greater collaboration between GP Practices, while the essential investment into Cyber Security will ensure data is securely stored. 

Dr Ian Jackson, Medical Director and Clinical Safety Officer, Refero (Patient App provider) 

I was interested to read about Matt Hancock talking about the new tender process (GP IT Futures) designed to replace the old GP Systems of Choice framework. This is a brave new approach promoting the move to cloud-based systems and is valued at close to £0.5 billion.  The hope is that this will encourage competition and new players in the market.

Mike Thomas, Managing Director, Innopsis 

Across the Public Sector, the proposal to migrate services to the Internet is accepted. HSCN, in many respects, is technology agnostic with additional controls and service assurance that supports NHS drive to digital, therefore we see use of the Internet as complementary and not a radical change in direction.

Big call for Britain’s cable giant Virgin Media as telecoms merger mania is dialled up again

Telegraph

Virgin Media’s parent faces questions beyond those over its generous executive policies and clever tax structures.

With the weekend looming, Tom Mockridge had a hairy problem. The Virgin Media boss was due to join his wife and young children in Italy, but there was nobody in London to look after his dog, Mildred.

Fortunately, Mockridge had a sympathetic boss, sensitive to the challenges of maintaining work-life balance. Mike Fries, chief executive of Virgin Media parent Liberty Global, offered him use of the corporate jet. Mildred would be spared the misery of kennels and join the family fun.

 

Three to launch ‘UK’s fastest’ 5G network in August – but there’s a catch

Mirror

Three claims its 5G network will be faster than EE’s and Vodafone’s, because it has more spectrum.

Three will launch its 5G network in August, claiming it will be the fastest in the UK – but there’s one major catch.

At launch, the service will only be available in London as a home broadband service.

Three said its 5G home broadband customers will be able to plug a hub into the wall to immediately become connected, without lengthy engineer wait times or a long-term contract.

This “plug and play” 5G service is set to offer comparable speeds to fibre broadband, according to Three.

The company then plans to roll out both mobile and home broadband offerings in 25 towns and cities across the UK “before the end of the year”.

Openreach UK Trial G.INP Tweak to Raise FTTC Broadband Stability

ISPreview

Openreach has announced plans to trial higher levels of ReTransmission (ReTx / G.INP) technology on their Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) based “superfast broadband” capable ISP lines, which they believe could slightly improve service speed and help stability.

G.INP (ITU G.998.4) is an error correction solution that is designed to help resolve spikes of Electromagnetic Interference(impulse noise), which can impact the stability and performance of hybrid fibre VDSL2 / FTTC lines. The introduction of this technology can, on some lines, even produce a small increase in service speed.

Openreach has in fact been using G.INP (ITU G.998.4) technology within their hybrid fibre network for awhile, although historically it’s tended to work much better on their Huawei based estate than those of their ECI cabinets.

Launch date for Broadband USO set as 20th March 2020 – updated

Think Broadband

The long awaited Broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO) moves a step closer as the 20th March 2020 has been announced as the date when it will take effect.

The broadband USO is designed to give everyone the legal right to a 10 Mbps download sync speed and 1 Mbps upload sync speed connection.

The technologies identified as able to deliver the USO are FTTP, most VDSL2 (but not all due to distance issues), fixed wireless and mobile broadband (4G and 5G).  It appears that ADSL2+ is excluded from being supplied as a USO solution, though for the small number of ADSL2+ lines that do have a greater than 1 Mbps upload sync we suspect you may fail the eligibility checks – the Ofcom paperwork does not give any guidance on this.

The two designated USO providers are BT Group and KCOM and they have 30 days from when you contact them to determine if you are eligible with the conditions including:

    • Check that no access to a current USO capable service is available.
    • Not covered by a public scheme that will deliver something that exceeds the USO parameters in the next 12 months
    • Not cost the company more than £3,400 to deliver, if it does then you will have the option to pay the difference or opt for something such as a satellite broadband service or continue as you are today
    • If a USO speed or better service is available but costs more than £45/m then the USO provider can deliver a service to you