BBC seeks telecoms supplier for £230m seven year contract

BBC seeks telecoms supplier for £230m seven year contract

The BBC has put out to tender a seven year network and connectivity services contract worth up to £230m as the broadcaster delivers on the promise of splitting its broader telecommunications and IT services requirements into smaller deals.

Telecoms and network service providers will be licking their lips with anticipation as a single supplier is sought to deliver high capacity core network capacity and fixed point to point and point to multi-point connections for broadcast purposes as well as enterprise wide area network (WAN) connectivity, covering direct exchange, ISDN and ADSL lines, earmarked to link BBC offices both in the UK and abroad.

Local area network (LAN) connectivity, mobile telephone and fixed line telephone services are specifically excluded from the tender, in keeping with the BBC’s intention to implement a so called Tower Model approach announced in 2014. The same year saw the expiration of a £2bn 10 year, single supplier ICT deal with Siemens Business Services which was fraught with problems, including the scrapping of a digital media project began in 2008 – a source of great embarrassment which the BBC said had ‘wasted a huge amount of licence fee payers money’.

“We are moving from one monolithic contract covering everything to multiple contracts with a number of specialist companies. This allows us to get better value, greater flexibility and access to new technology as it emerges,” the corporation said at the time.

Whilst the BBC is very clear that the contract is to be awarded to a single supplier, the specific terms actually require only that a ‘single economic operator’ takes ‘primary liability’, suggesting that different service elements can be subcontracted to other companies. This potentially opens up the contract to a broader range of smaller telecoms and network service providers previously locked out of service agreements with large corporations due to their complex IT service requirements which few but the very largest of ICT suppliers and systems integrators were able to deliver on their own.

The BBC estimates the value of the contract at between £150-230m, with an option of extending its duration to ten years. The deadline for application is 27th April.

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