Telecoms giants line up for £2.5bn Ocean Project

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The Independent Online

Telecoms giants BT, Cable & Wireless and Global Crossing are in the running for chunks of a government communications contract lasting up to seven years and worth up to £2.5bn.

The three groups have expressed interest in the Ocean Programme being run by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the Office of Government Commerce. Eads, the defence-to-aerospace contractor, is also understood to have applied, but is likely to join a consortium led by one of the three big telecoms groups.

Pitches have now been assessed, said a Whitehall source.Up to eight companies will be appointed to four panels, called frameworks, in areas such as telephony and email. These pre-approved companies would then be in the running to link communications networks between government departments and British embassies.

The Ocean Programme was initiated in January and the contracts are expected to be in place from next autumn. A shortlist of contenders is expected to be drawn up before then.