After much deliberation, BT have managed to snag a deal with the British Army. The business unit won this five-year contract on a long-term relationship between BT and the Army, and with the intention of creating ‘smart bases’ throughout the UK.
This deal is to bring managed wifi networks across 162 Army bases. This includes offices, hangars, training facilities, technical accommodation and workshops. Recreation facilities will also benefit from these new networks.
BT will be implementing something we know as ‘MOD Wifi’. MOD Wifi is a fully managed network, instead of the general networks we have at home. The contract will build on the pre-existing 200 Ministry of Defence (MoD) sites that BT’s defence team manage throughout the UK, Germany and Cyprus. It will also make over a decade of BT’s partnership with the MoD to provide high-quality wifi.
As expected, security was a huge subject regarding this contract, but rest assured the network will have a managed firewall built-in to enhance and better security as a whole for the Army’s wifi networks.
Soldiers in remote bases will now be able to benefit from enhanced contact and connectivity to loved ones. This also includes being able to access general digital platforms in their down-time. This connectivity will also allow BT to start developing ‘smart bases’ throughout the next 12 months. These will enable bases to both improve the digital experience for soldiers and other personnel, but also to enhance security. Smart bases will include features like smart surveillance and Intelligent Building Entry Solutions. As well as the added security boost, the networks will allow for more efficient energy consumption from the Army.
”BT has already been working with the Army to establish a smart base in Larkhill, South West England, with a digital infrastructure that incorporates fibre broadband and private 5G. The base uses technology such as HD cameras and sensors, facial recognition, smart building entry and management, digital signage to relay tailored messages to different audiences, and secure printing.”
Major General John Collyer, The British Army Director Information
An interesting point regarding the contract as a whole is the Army’s decision to use wifi instead of a private cellular. A private core network could have much higher security benefits than wifi, as well as it’s constantly developing nature to be able to add new, beneficial features to these network sites. Despite this, the simplicity of wifi has simply been recognised to have more of a place here, and it’s stability as a whole to still be viable for the Army.
What makes the MOD wifi contract is providing soldiers with the ability to connect with family from any base. This is a function wifi simply works best for.
The MoD’s spending habits are also forever under scrutiny, and unnecessary spending causes criticism. Using taxpayer money to indulge in newer tech when wifi works perfectly fine is likely the safer option in the public eye.
Private cellular networking, however, isn’t all too far away from the Army. The digital transformation plan, THEIA, shows a base in Larkhill, Wiltshire used to test even more advanced tech. This includes features such as such as fibre broadband and private 5G.
Some examples of this are HD surveillance cameras and sensors, facial recognition, smart building entry and management and more. These features are a huge upgrade to the digital security and surveillance of the Army.