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Contestants in a bid to land a £100m government contract to provide 5G security services in public buildings have been so jockeying for position that at least one contractor was stuck in the middle

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Security staff from BT security firm caught up in fight for share of 5G contract worth £100m

Security staff from BT security firm caught up in fight for share of 5G contract worth £100m

Contestants in a bid to land a £100m government contract to provide 5G security services in public buildings have been so jockeying for position that at least one contractor was stuck in the middle.

The security firm Alarm and Security Services has laid out a six-point policy for how 5G will affect the private sector industry, published with the UK government earlier this month, but the wider project has had security as one of its focal points.

When AT&S chief executive Richard Hayes gave his presentation to a conference of industry experts, he told attendees that the need for 5G’s services would be higher than forecast in the longer term, prompting officials from 10 other security firms to protest.

The next 5G communications network, touted to be several times faster than the country’s existing 4G connections, is expected to provide security for government, industry and public figures at huge events, including political and sporting events such as Wimbledon and the London Olympics.

Hospitals and other healthcare facilities will also require increased security, with the Tories setting out a £1bn investment in patient safety.

“The applications of this technology are exponential,” Hayes said. “A key rationale is our projection for mass migration to 5G.”

AT&S was first up in the field on 28 December, when it laid out its approach to providing some of the more demanding aspects of the project, such as scanning scanners at airport checkpoints.

In the same week, AT&S also began discussing its approach to the supply of security staff at the technological hub at the heart of the project, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC).

Among other details shared with the investors, Hayes described the 5G status of the centre as “non-existent” at the time of the conference, days before it was revealed that the NCSC planned to base more than 200 employees on the site.

John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, has attacked the handling of the bidding, claiming that “businesses are being put at risk”.

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Nick Clegg, a Liberal Democrat former deputy prime minister, told the paper: “This is a prime example of the cronyism, the backroom deals and the waste that have characterised so much of the last government’s work.

“It is totally unacceptable that the National Cyber Security Centre is located in a building leased by a private security firm.”

The Cybersecurity Alliance has confirmed that the contract for the secure administration of the centre at the NCSC is awarded to AT&S, without giving any further details.

The NCSC is a development body within the security industry which provided specifications for secure communications technology.

The centre is aimed at “creating a robust capability across UK industry for securing the nation’s critical infrastructure and major events, and contributing to protecting the UK’s national security”.

In a statement, the government defended the security agencies’ decision to award AT&S the contract, despite MPs accusing the company’s officials of not fully disclosing its position.

“The government needs to protect the UK’s intelligence and security agencies and agencies need to have the right security teams in place,” said a spokesperson for the National Cyber Security Centre.

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