The government’s Network Services framework, potentially worth up to £2bn, has gone live, with 61 suppliers selected.
The framework will replace the previous PSN Services and PSN Connectivity frameworks and provide local authorities with a route to procuring voice and internet networks.
Although the full list of participants has yet to be made public, it is understood that it will be made up of 30% small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
Innopsis, the industry association for companies providing public network services, welcomed today’s launch.
Ian Fishwick, commercial director at Innopsis said: “Early on in the process, it was clear CCS was committed to ensuring a greater degree of SME participation in the framework and the team has worked closely with Innopsis to structure the framework as such.
“One of the key breakthroughs was the innovative agreement to structure the procurement ‘lots’ into core and supplementary products.
“The objective was to try to define the ‘core’ products as the ones where the vast bulk of the revenue would be spent. So, as long as you could supply the ‘core’ products then you would be allowed to bid. All ‘supplementary’ products became optional.”
He said that, previously, the most common reason for SMEs not bidding was the requirement that they should be able to supply all products needed, no matter how little revenue would be spent on them.
“The longer the list of products; the more likely that an SME couldn’t supply at least one of them,” Fishwick said.
There are ten lots within the framework: data access; local connectivity; traditional telephony; inbound telephony; IP telephony; mobile voice and data services; paging services; video conferencing; audio conferencing; and integrated communications.
When it published the tender for the framework, the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) estimated the value of purchases which might be made at between £100m and £2bn.
Innopsis said it will be conducting a more detailed survey on the procurement amongst its’ members – which suffered multiple delays – in order that it can provide CCS with structured feedback on lessons learnt.