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EastNet

This case study describes how regional collaboration with MLL Telecom is delivering interoperable services across Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire.

In 2018 the EastNet partnership, a collaboration between public sector organisations throughout the region, appointed MLL Telecom, a HSCN compliant supplier to bring full-fiber gigabit speeds to Cambridgeshire via a new wide area network (WAN). They have since  worked with MLL Telecom to migrate sites across Cambridgeshire, encompassing local schools, NHS foundation trusts, district and city councils, and county councils. These migrations have significantly enhanced connectivity options for health and care organisations alike.

Since work began in summer 2018 to upgrade the county’s existing WAN infrastructure, MLL Telecom have also been selected as the HSCN supplier and IT partner for a number of other organisations across the East of England, including Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust and Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), laying the foundations for sustained technological and social collaboration in the region.

Upgrading the WAN

Limited bandwidth and declining WAN infrastructure is a concern that is the focus of many UK councils' digital health transformation strategies.

Many local authorities are trying to upgrade or replace their existing infrastructure to enable new ways of working and interacting. Several local authorities across the East of England, including Suffolk County Council and Norfolk County Council, have used HSCN migration to realise these ambitions and provide digital connectivity infrastructure fit for the future.

Suffolk County Council have put in place a 5-year digital transformation strategy to future-proof their network as part of a 20-year long infrastructure project with CityFibre.

Some of the benefits of EastNets’ regional collaboration approach to their digital transformation plans include:

  • a more streamlined connection from a single provider, replacing point-to-point connections from multiple providers
  • region-wide internet roaming for staff via the government-led GovRoam initiative, enabling greater remote working options  
  • increased bandwidth speeds of up to 10Gb 
  • a managed and secure connection, enhanced by new firewalls

Partnerships between suppliers and users have been vital in bringing these new services to the region, including a partnership with CityFibre, a digital infrastructure provider contracted to lay fiber infrastructure across the region. This is an important step to meet plans outlined by government for all health providers to have full fiber connectivity.

HSCN migration

MLL Telecom have migrated other healthcare organisations and acute hospitals from the Transition Network onto HSCN. Migration to HSCN allows local NHS sites, such as hospitals and CCGs, across the region to work on a shared, high-speed, secure network, improving the safe transfer of critical and sensitive patient information.

The NHS Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust, made up of 45 sites, completed migration onto HSCN, and futureproofed its digital strategy, to ensure it can cope with demand for more digitally led services, such as video conferencing for acute hospitals.

Patient Wi-Fi

The Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust delivered free public NHS WiFi, compliant to NHS standards in May 2018. The first quarter of 2019 saw over 6200 new registrations to use the free WiFi service, helping patients stay in touch with friends and loved ones during their hospital stay.

Feedback indicates this has:

  • helped patients feel better
  • have fewer fears and concerns
  • allowed them to access information to help understand their conditions and aid conversations with their care team

Read more about the successful delivery of NHS WiFi on the NHS Digital NHS WiFi pages.

Social impact  

The enhanced connectivity has also seen significant social benefits brought to the East region.

A ‘Digital Academy’ has been launched in Suffolk, in collaboration with MLL Telecom, which aims to train local employees in fibre installation, digital skills such as AI and DevOps, and network management. 

Local authority sites throughout Norfolk and Suffolk are working with the New Anglia Enterprise Adviser Network to improve social mobility across the region.

Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire are rolling out new services, including:

  • managed public Wi-Fi via a managed local area network (LAN), to increase connectivity in rural areas
  • better access to digital services, such as remote teaching, in the region’s classrooms

Enhancing connectivity is an important agenda point for us at Suffolk. Connectivity is about more than internet speeds, it is about helping local communities, no matter how rural, thrive and grow. It is also key to helping drive and boost employment opportunities throughout the region, and help Suffolk become a truly digital county. Our 20-year partnership with MLL Telecom is key to enabling the digital change we want to see in the near and long-term future, and we are looking forward to seeing how this partnership will evolve alongside Suffolk County Council.

We are extremely proud of the results we have delivered, either through partnership or directly with public authorities or healthcare institutions across the East of England. We understand the impact that good connectivity options can have on a community – our reliance on technology today means connectivity can significantly improve residents’ day-to-day lives and deliver better business outcomes. We’re committed to making the East of England the envy of the country, ensuring it embraces technology to meet the demands of today, and tomorrow.

Last edited: 5 September 2019 4:23 pm