4G will help departments work more flexibly, GDS tells Whitehall

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The Government Digital Service (GDS) has recommended departments adopt 4G data networks to improve mobile working under a new set of network principles.

With smartphones and tablets proving increasingly popular to use to work on documents and catch up on emails, the GDS wants Whitehall to embrace new technology to give staff more flexibility in how they work.

To this end, it has published a set of network principles to help departments share and access information more easily, including the suggestion they adopt 4G.

"Historically mobile connectivity has provided a limited set of functionality," the document said. "This is now changing and there may be use cases where a 4G service could meet user needs both as a primary service or as a backup."

The document did not mention whether such a service would rely on end users' personal smartphone connectivity or would require departments to procure their own 4G networks.

The GDS added: "Public sector employees expect to be able to work in any location: at home, in the office, on the move or in other government buildings - just like their private sector counterparts.

"If we continue to design and build new services based on these principles, then we'll help to remove complexity, and reduce cost for service design and operations."

Networks should also be designed for a roaming user base, the GDS said, warning that "designing on net' solutions which only work in your own premises will limits staff mobility and be at odds with your own corporate policies".

The news comes after the Cabinet Office ditched its own Wi-Fi for a service provided by Aerohive.

The network won't support government-provided tablets or smartphones, however, with 1,700 staff able to choose one of five sanctioned laptops.

The GDS will adopt the network principles into the Technology Code of Practice and the Digital by Default Service Standard.