The evolution of e-governance, consolidation of IT services at centralised data centres, and maintenance and control of online services has increased the need for access to the internet and interconnectivity between government offices and facilities. In order to meet these requirements, the offices were directed to procure connectivity services from vendors which led them to purchase low-quality internet connections at very high rates.
The Punjab government, despite being a major purchaser of internet bandwidth, was not able to get good rates due to geographically distributed and standalone connections from multiple ISP vendors. Moreover, with increasing cyber-attacks making networks vulnerable and services insecure at a time when the government was overseeing a rapid shift of office functions and services to the e-governance model, it was necessary to have fast, economical, efficient and secure inter-connectivity between government offices so they could benefit from centralised and unified communication services such as IP telephony, video conferencing as well as Tier 2 and Tier 3 IT related support.
The PITB has engaged ISP vendors in a central contract for provision of high speed internet and inter-office connectivity services all across Punjab with the Arfa Software Technology Park (ASTP) Data Centre as the hub site at considerably economical rates and quality services agreements with stringent service level agreements (SLA’s). Currently, more than 100 offices are interlinked with the PITB through secure MPLS Layer 3 tunnels and are sharing unified communication facilities centrally administered by the PITB Infrastructure Team.
This initiative will provide low-cost, secured and filtered internet services to government departments. It will ensure that there is data consistency and control through secured connectivity. There will also be cost savings in telecommunication related expenses through efficient use of the IP telephony infrastructure. Centrally driven IP telephony services would provide economic benefit in terms of reduction of nationwide dialing calls at remote offices and even elimination of distributed telephone connections. All the interlinked offices would be treated as local exchange and local extension lines, thereby, increasing the reliability, efficiency, and availability of services and eliminating inter-office calling expenses nearly to zero.