Public Services > Central Government

Public sector employees get Wi-Fi boost with 'govroam'

David Bicknell Published 27 July 2017

Wi-Fi service which evolved from eduroam likely to see major use in health and social care; NHS is fastest growing adopter


The UK public sector is to get ‘zero-touch’ access to Wi-Fi with the launch today of “govroam”.

Govroam, which has been flagged up by several informed users within local government over the last six months, notably by Kent PSN’s Jeff Wallbank and Essex County Council’s David Wilde, has now been formally launched to the UK public sector by education and research not-for-profit digital specialist Jisc.

Govroam evolved from eduroam, an established Wi-Fi service used by the further and higher education and research sector which runs on the UK’s national research and education network, Janet, and supports the roaming of 1.6m unique devices each month.

The govroam service has been in gestation for some time, with testing being quietly carried out by several public sector users.

Jisc’s head of network access Mark O’ Leary told Government Computing the service is seeing significant traction in multi-tenanted sites in Leeds, where govroam is already in place as part of the Yorkshire and Humberside Public Services Network (YHPSN).

Building on Wallbank’s enthusiasm for the service, another PSN that was an “early adopter” of govroam is Kent, where every local authority in the county has rolled it out. govroam is now available at more than 250 sites and rising and work is continuing to connect the whole of Kent’s PSN, which has more than 370,000 users across nearly 1,200 sites.

There has also been major interest from health organisations in Greater Manchester, with the NHS being the fastest growing adopter of govroam to date.  

Central government’s interest in govroam is said to have been hampered by the existence of existing cross-Whitehall Wi-Fi work which is understood to be being carried out by the Government Digital Service (GDS). It is believed, however, that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has expressed positive noises about the potential of the govroam service.

Govroam has also been deployed in parts of London, and there is said to be keen interest from PSNs in many other parts of the UK.

O’Leary indicated that while there is interest in the Wi-Fi service itself,  even greater traction could be expected around the potential of future services, such as Follow-Me Printing.

O’Leary has significant ambitions for growth of the govroam service, targeting 80% of higher education users within three years, and 15-20% growth across other verticals each year.

Subscription costs for govroam service, have been described as "less than the cost of a decent laptop" at £3K for individual organisations, £10K for multiple tenant regional enterprises, and £36K for larger organisations.

The original govroam service was launched three years ago by the Belgian national research network Belnet, with the intention that it would be used exclusively for administrations and government departments.

A subsequent agreement between Belgium and the Netherlands allows Belgian users to surf on the wireless network of their Dutch colleagues when they visit a Dutch government department that has signed up for the govroam project.

However govroam in the UK public sector will be a standalone solution, with no external access from other countries specified.


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