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East Lothian saves on new WAN

Aiming for 40 percent reduction in networking costs

East Lothian Council is aiming to shave 40 percent of its networking costs over the next 12 months with a new wide area network (WAN) infrastructure.

The network will also enable the council to accelerate the rollout of home-working initiatives for employees, which form part of its wider commitment to reduce operational costs and on-site overheads.

East Lothian went to Updata Infrastructure to build and manage core network connectivity to both school and council corporate sites. The WAN will support the council's plan to move towards an accredited Public Services Network (PSN) architecture, which enables easier links with other organisations to support shared services.

Until now, East Lothian had used BT for WAN services, but it wanted an alternative supplier after significant cost increases of 30 percent over the previous five years, and a perceived lack of flexibility and resilience for those services.

Updata was selected to initially provide a single network to connect the region's 45 schools, due to go-live by August 2012. Later in 2012, a second dedicated network will be introduced into the infrastructure for 75 corporate council sites, including library buildings and council offices.

The network will feature a high-capacity core fibre ring connecting six BT exchanges, and connection speeds will range between a minimum of 10Mbps up to 100Mbps.

The council's "Work Smart" rationalisation project, a cost-saving initiative aimed at supporting home working and reducing on-site overheads, will be supported. Previously, high charges were incurred when network links needed to be re-routed or shut down because of changes in the council's operational structure.

Alan Cruikshank, IT services manager at East Lothian Council, said: "Updata has provided us with exceptional cost savings on our network provision, whilst giving us the high level of reliability required.

"Its flexibility has opened up the scope for future transition to a PSN network as well as collaboration with East Lothian health authorities and other public sector bodies."

The value of the new WAN contract has not been disclosed.

In other public sector connectivity news, the Welsh government says it will invest up to £400 million in rolling out broadband to businesses and residents up until 2015.

The target investment total will be made up of UK government cash, European funding and Welsh Assembly money.

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