O2 close to securing 47,000 connection MOD deal from Vodafone


Contract, in partnership with BT, is said to be one of the single biggest of its kind in the public sector

O2 is set to land a lucrative deal worth around 47,000 mobile connections with the Ministry of Defence (MOD) at the expense of rivals Vodafone, Mobile News understands.

The deal, said to be for four years, is in partnership with EE parent BT and is the single biggest mobile contract of its kind in the public sector. Annual spend on mobile services according to the latest figures released from the MOD was £5.9 million.*

The UK government launched The Defence Fixed Telecommunications Service (DFTS) in 1997 by partnering with BT to securely manage its communication needs, both across fixed and mobile via a network sub-contacted partner. The Ministry of Defence claims DFTS has saved it more than £800 million to date.

Vodafone has provided mobile connectivity to the MOD, which employs 56,000 staff across the Royal Navy, British Army and the RAF, for more than 13 years prior to the deal expiring late last year.

Neither BT, the MOD or the operators would comment at press, but sources close to the situation told Mobile News the deal has been agreed, and the number porting process from Vodafone to O2 will begin in the next few weeks. Porting is expected to be gradual and be completed by around Q3 (July-September).

“This is a huge deal for O2 and one of its biggest ever contracts,” said one source. “It is the largest and most valuable contract in the public sector and Vodafone will be bitterly disappointed to have lost it after all this time.”

Maximum security

Reasons for the proposed switch were unconfirmed at press, but it is claimed the security of O2’s network played a major role.In 2014, O2 become the first opera- tor to have achieve “government approved” CAS(T) certification (awarded annually) based on achieving the highest levels of security for voice and data services carried over its network. The operator claims to have spent more than a billion on its network in the past few years, spending around £1.5 million every day.

Clear target

O2 has also launched a “catalogue” of products and services in recent years designed specifically to help the public sector reduce costs and boost staff productivity. These include last year’s launch of the No.10 tariff aimed at driving adoption of smartphones/ tablets while utilising digital services such as Box (cloud storage and file sharing), Office 365, MDM, Just Call Me (conference calling) and TuGo (WiFi calling).

O2 has won nine out of the 17 available central government contracts in recent years, taking its share above 40 per cent and overtaking Vodafone as the number one supplier in the public sector. Wins include the Crown Prosecution Service, the Cabinet Office, Department for Business Innovation and Skills and the National Crime Agency.

“O2 has invested heavily into its network and in ensuring it ticks all the boxes when comes to compliance in the public sector,” said our insider. “The CAS(T) accreditations played a huge part in its recent successes. O2 can demonstrate that its network is more compliant than anyone else’s from a security point of view, that’s a major attraction.”

*Figure was revealed by Minister of State for Defence Procurement at the Ministry of Defence Philip Dunne in 2013. Connection numbers at the time, running on Vodafone – as part of a sub-contract with BT, were 34,924 voice and 8,517 data. The figure has since risen to around 47,000 in the following years. Click here for full transcript.