The government's procurement arm, Buying Solutions, is looking for suppliers for up to £2 billion worth of services for the Public Services Network (PSN), the communications infrastructure for local councils and Whitehall departments.

The PSN is effectively an 'internal' network of infrastructure taken from existing telecommunications networks run by private operators, and is aimed at saving the government £500 million a year in operational costs. In three years' time, the government wants 80 percent of its PC-based staff (four million users) to be using the network.

Under a contract notice published on Saturday, the government's procurement arm, Buying Solutions, said it was seeking a range of networking and communications services to be used across the country. The two-year framework, which can be extended by a further four years, is worth between £500,000 and £2 billion.

The government expects to sign deals with over 100 suppliers, covering services ranging from local network provision, communications, video conferencing, mobile voice and data, networking gateways and unified communications. Consultancy services and legacy system migration are also included.

The services will be made available to central government departments, local councils, the NHS, charities, and public sector corporations including Royal Mail and the BBC.

Last month, Virgin Media Business and Global Crossing were named as accredited providers for the PSN, working on the Government Conveyance Network (GCN) and PSN Internet Protocol Virtual Private Network (IP-VPN) backbone infrastructure.