Vodafone is set to muscle in on BT and IBM's turf after setting up a division to target the lucrative contracts on offer around the Government's new plan to set up a "network of networks".
The group will today announce the appointment of Simon Holmyard as head of its first Public Services Network (PSN) operation, to compete for contracts expected to run into hundreds of millions of pounds. It is the first UK mobile operator to target the space.
Mr Holmyard has been promoted from within Vodafone's public sector sales and management team. The company said it was an indication it was "expanding our work with Government well beyond mobile".
PSN was dubbed the "network of networks" when the plans were drawn up last year by the Cabinet Office. It is designed to slash costs on how public service bodies buy and use voice and data services. It will also help speed the delivery of public services and create one network for a series of suppliers and infrastructure, which can all work on the same standards.
The Government spends about £16.5bn a year on information and communications technology, yet just £21m of that is on mobile phone services. There are currently no mobile phone companies among the top 22 suppliers to the Government.
Vodafone's move will pit it against fixed-line operators such as BT's global services business and Cable & Wireless Worldwide (CWW), as well as IT systems integrators including HP, IBM and Fujitsu.
Suppliers to PSN will be appointed next year. Vodafone will offer services such as mobile broadband and remote access, including secure email. The PSN plan will be up and running in 2013, and is designed to save the Government £500m a year by the following year.
Earlier this year, the Government signed a series of deals with BT, CWW, Virgin Media and Global Crossing to provide the core network that will connect all PSN service providers together.
Vodafone said it wanted to be part of the Government's transformation agenda "rather than simply be yet another supplier of kit or services to the public sector".