So, Government Connect (GC) are to proceed with charging for their GCSX connections to Local Authorities. This was announced at the Spring Forum events held this month (March). Local Authorities in England and Wales will be charged for their GCSX connections from April 2011. The cost for a 2mb connection will be £15.5k per annum if usage stays the same as at present. It could possibly rise to 18k if usage moves to the next band.
Many authorities have an aggregated connections - LPSN, Kent Connects, Essex, Wales, Hampshire etc. and will pay either £39.5k for a 10mb connection (possibly rising to £51k) or £98k for a 100mb connection (possibly rising to £216k). Quite a wide variation there! Note actual charges from the partnership may be higher as the costs do not include the regional network costs and will have to include back up as as well as the main connection.
The good news is that GC have finally agreed with the NHS that the GCSX connection can be used for N3 connectivity as the 2 networks will be connected via the PSI. This will provide national, spine and PCT connectivity. The GCSX Code of Connection will be deemed adequate for technical purposes although a very much reduced IGSoc will still need to be completed to cover Data Handling not Incorporated in the GCSX CoCo.
What are the implications for Local Authorities? When the GSi is replaced by PSN (although in the interim the GCF will provide continuity) there is an opportunity to procure additional aggregated networks where network connection costs are shared. Hampshire, Kent and Dorset are all at various points in creating PSN compliant network services that will serve their Counties. The networks will include the LAs but also Fire Authorities and other public bodies needing connectivity. The opportunity is to exploit the architecture of PSN to provide a regional network with links directly into all buildings (even schools) rather than operating separate LA networks. The potential is therefore to reduce WAN and internal support costs for operating separate networks. Services can be provided over the network including access to Government systems and the NHS. In addition, the PSN is a pre-requisite to accessing the G Cloud. Yorkshire and Humber Region have already begun the process of developing a regional network (developed with Red Pepper@52) and is now seeking RIEP funding. This shared services model must now be the route for all other Counties and Regions.