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For the past twenty-six years, BT has been a trusted and reliable partner to the Ministry of Defence. Through technological innovation and collaboration, together they’ve achieved brilliant things.

The beginning of DFTS

Before the start of the DFTS (Defence Fixed Telecommunications Service) Agreement, over 50 different voice and data networks were in use across MOD’s UK estate, with each military service using different vendor technologies, networking protocols and dialling plans.

Managing this was costly, resource intensive and impacted the MOD’s ability to conduct military exercises independently or as part of a coalition operation. Communication between Services and other government departments was fragmented meaning something needed to change.

The concept of an integrated voice and data network across all MOD departments started in 1991, and by 1997 BT was selected based on lowest risk, highest quality, and overall best value.

Early successes

The DFTS Agreement put in place an output-based service contract, with guaranteed SLA’s and KPI’s. To facilitate this, BT stood up a single point of contact – the Client Assured Service Centre (CASC) – and a catalogue of service offerings at fixed prices.

By 2000, a single consolidated dial plan and first ‘Enterprise Directory Service’ was established across the entire MOD, allowing any-to-any dialling without manual intervention.

The MOD’s digital journey began with the rollout of RESTRICTED and SECRET IP networks and the first Internet Gateway Service (IGS), which gave access to resources and information across military services and government in both the UK and globally.

Vulnerability and risk are a key consideration when accessing internet resources, so BT provided a Cyber Monitoring Service and an Enhanced Cyber Network Defence platform to ensure outstanding threat mitigation at all times.

BT x MOD 26 years of benefits and collaboration

10 years of cost saving benefits

The original business case for DFTS forecasted significant operational efficiencies and financial savings arising from the consolidation of networking capabilities – and it delivered exactly that.

Prior to its 10th anniversary, the MOD reported that the DFTS programme and working with BT had delivered more than £700m of savings.

The DFTS contract was extended to 2010 and soon reported an uplift in life-time savings to more than £800m – equivalent to 80% of the initial contract value.

Whilst savings are no longer reported, the continued use of effective and efficient technologies such as SECRET video conferencing still deliver direct and indirect cost benefits and resource efficiencies to the MOD.

IUS and mobile working

In 2015, BT was awarded the Integrated User Services contract (IUS) – to provide all UK and global voice, video, mobile and gateway capabilities on behalf of the MOD. This included migrating 50,000 sims and providing data capped tariffs which saved the MOD £2.3m per quarter. Within 6 months of contract award, BT implemented an ITIL service management framework and established the foundation for mobile working and collaboration.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, IUS capabilities enabled the MOD to rapidly transition to secure homeworking and delivered network capability to test centres and Nightingale hospitals within days. This included free uncapped UK roaming data for 60,000 MOD users and 2Gb of Wi-Fi for 2,000 users within 24 hours to a remote location.

More recently, in response to the war in Ukraine BT has provided 24/7 video teleconferencing support to MOD critical sites.

Additional critical gateway services

Over time, additional critical gateway services were established to provide the MOD with access to their cloud hosted applications and connection to approximately 90 critical third-party suppliers. This enabled industry collaboration as well as flexible collaborative working for the end user. During the global pandemic this function became critical, there was a need for rapid deployment of additional capacity as many of the MOD moved to remote working.

In 2020, BT’s commitment to the MOD was renewed by a further 3-year extension to the DFTS Agreement, which had flexible contractual and commercial terms to bring further benefit when migrating to future programmes. This has enabled Further Service Extension Period(s), the first of which is now in place. It also allows an Exit period, if required, allowing risk mitigation in the migration towards successor programme(s).

26 years and counting…

Through a period of evolutionary technological advances, and changes in the political environment both at home and globally, BT’s contracts with the MOD have continued to evolve and deliver transformational benefits.

Our services remain a major component of the MOD’s enterprise architecture with BT demonstrating what a safe pair of hands can achieve in a world of increasing threat and accelerating change.

Going forwards, BT are working with MOD to simplify services and the commercial landscape to provide even more cost efficiencies, whilst also exploring how to help de-risk transition and migration to future programmes and “Exit with Excellence”.

BT – Your partner in digital transformation

In 2022, BT invested £683m in Research and Development, and is ranked in the top 10 investors of UK companies, and the 5th highest spenders of telecommunication companies worldwide.

BT holds more than 5,400 patents and patent applications driven primarily through our global R&D centre at Adastral Park which plays a pivotal role in pushing the boundaries of telecommunications research.

Key R&D research areas include:

• Artificial Intelligence

• 5G

• Cyber Security

• Machine Learning

• Quantum Key Distribution

• Internet of Things (IoT)

BT runs an extensive, long-standing, joint-research programme working with more than 60 universities. Together, we pioneer the future of connectivity and related services for our customers.

BT’s strength and depth of highly skilled people, global presence and supply chain relationships enable us to support complex programmes across the entire UK, and internationally.


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Post written by: Matt Brown


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