Defra extends £2m deal for homeworker broadband

The department has expanded by 18 months and £630k an incumbent arrangement with BT through which almost 300 staff on remote working contracts can tap into connections provided by Defra

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has extended a multimillion-pound contract for the provision of broadband connections for hundreds of staff working from home or from smaller offices.

In July 2021, the department signed an initial three-year deal with BT for the provision of 900 broadband connections – including services for 282 “contractual homeworkers, [who] as part of their contract terms, they have the option of opting into home broadband provided free of charge by Defra”.

The connections offered via the BT deal are also used by “small Defra Group office locations and telemetry” services. The engagement has further served to “underpin small WiFi networks, printing capability, CCTV, alarm systems and other ICT” in use at departmental locations, according to newly released commercial documents.

With the contract originally scheduled to expire next month, Defra has signed an 18-month extension – taking the end date to 24 January 2026. The value of the agreement has consequently increasing by £631,800 to an overall total of £1.9m.

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Defra is currently in the midst of delivering its Future Network Procurement Project (FNPP), which aims to refresh connectivity services for more than 30,000 staff across 300 sites operated by the department and its many arm’s-length bodies.

The existing deal with BT was, thus, extended without any competitive process in order “to maintain continuity of service whilst FNPP further competition is running and to allow time for transitions” to Defra’s future connectivity services.

The additional term of 18 months represents “the expected timeframe to move services to FNPP”, according to the formal extension document.

“This is a fundamental business critical service, without this service none of Defra Offices or homeworkers will be able to function and there will be a direct business impact,” it adds. “Digital lines will be transitioned to the new FNPP contract provider for digital services at some point during the term of the 18-month contract extension, therefore the stated annual costs are expected to reduce. Digital lines will be transitioned to FNPP using the standard notice period of 28 days for those which have gone past the initial  [12-month] period from installation.”

Sam Trendall

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