The Networking People

The Organisation

The Networking People Ltd. (TNP), based at InfoLab21, provides high speed internet connectivity, network consultancy and engineering services to business, education and local authorities throughout the UK. TNP has a robust carrier network that includes points of presence with access to all the key urban and rural areas. TNP’s customers span the length of the UK from the Shetland Islands Council to Bath and North East Summerset Council.

www.tnp.net.uk

The Challenge

Connectivity between branches of an organisation, and to the internet, becomes more important the larger an organisation is. Blackpool Council wanted to create a broadband network to connect all of its departments to each other and to the internet.

Expertise Sought

  • Understanding of existing infrastructure
  • Knowledge of local loop unbundling and other technologies such as microwave radio
  • Project management skills

The Solution

TNP, formed at the School of Computing and Communications, won a contract with Blackpool Council to develop a compliant, secure, high-capacity broadband network, which will be independent from national telecoms companies. The five-year £3.2m managed services framework will allow TNP to take advantage of a range of technologies including local loop unbundling, private fibre infrastructure, microwave radio and existing council assets. The framework is also available to other councils in the area.

The School of Computing and Communications at Lancaster University has research expertise in communications and networking, computer systems, intelligent systems, software engineering, and human-computer interaction. 

Cost

The project formed part of a £3.2m, five-year managed services contract

Impact

The new council-owned wide area network reduced reliance on revenue budgets, releasing money for other key services. It also allows at least six other Lancashire councils to collaborate and join the network at any time. Around 100 schools, libraries, business incubator sites and public buildings have been aggregated across the network in Blackpool alone. Libraries and leisure centres will be able to open up this high-speed Wi-Fi to the general public. Schools will be offered the best price connectivity in the region, as well as migration to the latest cloud-based services, including Google Apps and Microsoft 365. Web-based phone systems will also be installed, virtually eliminating schools' and the council's phone bills.

Benefits to the company

  • The network was rolled out over six months, and TNP plan to develop and manage the service over five years

Benefits to society

  • The new council-owned wide area network reduced reliance on revenue budgets, releasing money for other key services
  • Libraries and leisure centres will be able to open up this high-speed Wi-Fi to the general public
  • Schools will be offered the best price connectivity in the region, as well as migration to the latest cloud-based services, including Google Apps and Microsoft 365
  • Web-based phone systems will also be installed, virtually eliminating schools' and the council's phone bills
  • Modernised how the council delivers services to the public

Company Feedback 

"As a regional, independent business, not only are we able to offer the council asset ownership of the network, but we can provide cost savings by integrating existing infrastructure and dramatically reduce operating costs. We understand that vital services will operate across this network - from schools to public health services - and our resilient solution provides the highest levels of connectivity to ensure these are maintained 24/7." Chris Wade, Director, TNP.

"This partnership is allowing the council to make significant savings at a time when the cost of telecoms is going up. It is also providing the town with resilient and secure connectivity that is completely under our control to grow and adapt as we do." Councillor Chris Maughan, Cabinet Member for Technology.

"TNP's solution will modernise how the council delivers services to the public and it is an enabler for huge efficiencies that we can channel into other key areas. TNP really impressed us with their understanding of our existing infrastructure - where we could use local loop unbundling and where we needed other technologies. They are not just a supplier of our connectivity, they complement and support our in-house team and exceed our service level agreement at every opportunity." Tony Doyle, Head of ICT Services, Blackpool Council.

Future Plans

TNP have strong roots at Lancaster University and participate in research projects and internships. Being based at Infolab21 allows their business to grow incrementally thanks to the availability of different sized office units.

In addition to satisfying TNP’s accommodation needs they have recently employed two Lancaster University graduates one of which undertook an internship with TNP over 17 weeks.