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National Highways rolls out £650 million roadside telecoms tender

Contract covers cable-based, wireless and public network technologies to make journeys 'seamless'

National Highways, England's central government agency for motorway maintenance, is looking for services providers to provide connectivity solutions between control rooms and roadside devices.

The tender is worth £650 million and is part of the National Roads Telecommunications Services (NRTS) project. This currently provides services to over 30,000 end devices on over 3500kms of England's motorways and major-A roads.

The NRTS is part of the agency's Digital Roads and Data strategy and one of its objectives is providing better real time information so drivers can tailor their travel. A push for data centralisation is also part of the strategy which relies on the use of technology including CCTV cameras, flood sensors, embankment slip warnings, variable message signs and emergency telephones.

Given the focus on centralisation and more efficient sharing, the agency says it is keen to pursue closer relationships with a range of third parties, including transport authorities, transport operators and infrastructure owners. The end goal is a seamless and integrated end-to-end journey experience for the agency's customers. Or, to put it another way, drivers.

See also: Highways England's ambitious Digital, Data and Technology Strategy wins CIO plaudits.

Telent Technology Services holds the current NRTS contract. Its initial £450 million began deal in 2018 with a 2025 end date. In January 2024, the contract was extended to 2027, in an estimated £225 million deal.

The newly advertised contract has a similar scope as to the one held by Telent and includes the maintenance and deployment of NRTS services. The selected operator will be expected to cover cable-based, wireless and public network technologies, alongside undertaking several related service areas such as providing a NRTS service management system that is capable of wider use to support the management of roadside devices.

The tender will require the new contractor to take over six months before the current contract expires to ensure a smooth transition of contract management and requirements. It has an expected duration of seven years – and the possibility of an additional two year extension.