What’s next for Network Services?
With Network Services 2 on the horizon we take a brief look at the landscape of the sector and why we need a framework dedicated to Networks!
The UK’s telecomms and digital infrastructure is a constantly evolving and maturing landscape. Just like the private sector, the public sector relies heavily on the availability of high-speed networks to support the transfer of voice and data (“information”). This includes connecting safety-critical services used by citizens, such as motorway and roadside devices like CCTV and emergency telephones; and railway telecoms that enables signalling.
However, it also includes private networks for everyday public sector operations, such as the Public Services Network (PSN) which supports departments aim “to work together, reduce duplication and share resources”, and the Health and Social Care Network (HSCN) for the NHS to manage things like application bookings and electronic prescriptions.
Of course, our networks look nothing like they did in the early 1980s, and they will likely look nothing like they do now in 2060-something! But how do private sector suppliers bring their new network-related technologies and services to the public sector market? And how can public sector organisations ensure that they entrusting such vital projects to the right suppliers?
Enter Network Services!
The Network Services framework is one example of a successful route to market for these types of services. Because of this, we can’t wait for CCS to release the second iteration of the framework in early October (TBC). It really is a framework that all suppliers of network and telecommunications-related services should get to know!
Why do we need a framework dedicated to Networks?
Considering the complexity of the field, frameworks like Network Services serve to put innovative and experienced Suppliers in place to make it easier for public sector buyers to meet their desired outcomes. To be accepted onto the framework, suppliers must meet certain capability and technical requirements. As the Lots on Network Services and most likely Network Services 2 are capped, the application process will be more intensive. There are pros and cons to this approach that we won’t go into now, but it does mean that public sector buyers can be assured that they will only have access to high-quality suppliers.
But, quality doesn’t mean only large suppliers! SMEs have been doing great things in the GovTech space. Thankfully, according to CCS’ Commercial Director Sarah Hurrell, quoted in Computer Weekly, while small to medium enterprises accounted for 16% of network agreements in the first iteration of the Network Services Framework, the goal is for that volume to increase to 31% of suppliers under NS2. The idea is to open the market up if not completely, more than ever before.
Network Services has made a solid start in building on existing services. In June 2018, the National Health Service expanded the funding available to the Academic Health Science Networks; earlier this year the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust engaged partners for network help under the scheme for its mental health services, and East Sussex NHS Trust has partnered with BT. The list goes on, and the aim is to foster even more successful projects with Network Services 2.
Network Services 2: a new opportunity
NS2 will continue to create a space for forward-thinking in tech procurement. The terms and conditions of the framework are purposefully technology agnostic, which allows buyers to provide outcomes-based requirements, and encourages supplier innovation. The scope of the Lots also allows for niche suppliers. Not to mention, once it goes Live, the framework itself is easy to use for both buyers and suppliers.
If your company is new to the public sector and sells network and telecommunication services, this is THE framework to be on.