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The BBC has chosen telco BT to provide its broadcast network, which it says will deliver considerable savings and pave the way for future digital innovation. This enables the BBC to move to a new, state-of-the-art network based on Internet technologies from April 2017.
The Corporation says the new network will be more efficient, flexible, and better able to support BBC innovation. For example, extra services and capacity can be added for major events, such as a general election or the Olympics, more easily and at a lower cost than with the current system. It will also make it easier for the BBC to work with and explore emerging, data-hungry formats – such as Ultra HD (4K), 360-degree content, and others yet to be invented.
The contract for the new provider is worth over £100 million for seven years, with an option for the BBC to extend for a further three. It will save the BBC tens of millions of pounds, making a significant contribution to the BBC’s savings targets, as it capitalises on advances in technology and a competitive procurement to reduce the overall cost.
Matthew Postgate, Chief Technology Officer at the BBC, said: “This is an important step towards building an internet-fit BBC and will allow us to provide more interactive and personalised content in the future. At a time when the BBC faces serious financial challenges, it will also save us tens of millions of pounds so we can focus more of our money on the programmes and services for licence fee payers.”
The new network will link all BBC UK sites, including 21 broadcasting centres and local radio stations, as well as connecting to the main overseas bureaux and partners for playout of the BBC’s TV channels. It will carry all video, audio and data traffic, as well as fixed line telephony, ISDN and broadband services.
It will be operated by BT’s global media services operation, BT Media and Broadcast. The selection of BT follows a public procurement under the BBC’s Aurora Programme, which is re-sourcing all of the BBC’s core technology services as the current contract expires in April 2017.
Mark Wilson-Dunn, Global Vice President of BT Media and Broadcast, said: “We are delighted by the BBC’s decision to choose us as their next generation broadcast network partner. Both of our organisations have a vital part to play in making the best use of advanced technology to support and enable the ever-accelerating evolution of broadcast media.”
The current broadcast network is provided by Vodafone UK through the BBC’s principal technology services provider, Atos. In future, Vodafone will continue to have an important strategic relationship with the BBC, providing a key data centre, telephony services and additional connectivity in London.
Over the coming year, the BBC will be working with both Vodafone and BT to ensure a smooth transition to the new network.