Norfolk County Council signs £20m communications deal for wired and wireless networks, unified communications and national roaming mobile services
Up to 4,500 employees at Norfolk County Council will use mobile phones powered by Anywhere SIM’s national roaming mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) as part of a £20 million deal with network integrator Updata.
Anywhere SIM launched a consumer service last summer, but now plans to target businesses and local government organisations, particularly those in rural areas who suffer from poor mobile reception.
The MVNO uses O2 as its ‘home’ network and switches to EE, Three or Vodafone if it can’t acquire a decent signal. The cost of calls, texts and data is double when not using O2, but it does mean a reduced chance of being unable to communicate with colleagues and friends.
The experience isn’t seamless however, so if the signal from one operator is lost, users must redial the person they were calling. Anywhere SIM says to offer a more integrated service would require more cooperation from the networks.
“Since we launched in late 2015 we have seen enormous demand for our solution to the ongoing ‘not spot’ problem,” said Matthew Wright, Anywhere SIM CEO. “Initially this was from consumers but the proposition has quickly transcended into commerce and most recently the public sector – where the direct benefits are particularly big.
“The majority of UK councils and local government will be fully aware of the issues presented by gaps in mobile signal and the impact this can have on the provision of important local services. This issue is pan-UK and applies to both urban and rural areas, especially with regard to lone workers.”
In addition to mobile services, the four year framework will see Updata build and manage wireless and fixed networks for the council, and provide unified communications.
Council buildings, libraries and schools across the county stand to benefit from the upgrades, which Updata says will be more robust and cost-effective than existing infrastructure.
“This contract will reduce costs and enhance IT services for public sector staff and for schools, allowing them to work flexibly and deliver the best possible service to people in Norfolk,” said Al Collier, head of procurement at the council. “Other public sector organisations may also take advantage of the framework, further benefitting people across the region, and I’m delighted that Updata will be offering apprenticeships to local people.”
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