Highways England has awarded telent Technology Services Ltd a seven-year contract worth £450m to manage and renew the communications network that sits at the heart of smart motorways.
The Government-owned company has let the contract for the National Roads Telecommunications Service (NRTS), which connects its seven regional control centres, the National Traffic Operations Centre and the 30,000 roadside technology assets including message signs, CCTV cameras and emergency roadside telephones.
It said the technology will continue to underpin the development and operation of the smart motorway and expressway programmes and would support plans to interact with the connected vehicles of the future.
The new service will renew equipment ‘and deliver a service that will provide an open, flexible and scalable telecommunications network to meet the future needs of the business; it will also enable and support Highways England in the development of innovative services such as connected vehicles and 5G’.
Chief executive Jim O’Sullivan told The Times that a system using the fibre optic network would build on smart motorways by communicating with connected and autonomous vehicles, including directly controlling their speed.
“Ultimately, our engineers’ dream would be to stop having speed limit signs by the side of the road because you have just broadcast to the car what the speed limit is,” he said.
Tony Malone, chief information officer at Highways England, said, “Safety is at the heart of everything we do and this network, the central nervous system for England’s motorways, enables us to operate safe roads.
“We are pleased to be working with telent Technology Services to deliver the reliability, resilience and innovation that will enable us to keep drivers safe and informed on our roads.”
The 30,000-plus items of on road technology equipment for which Highways England is responsible include 3,327 CCTV cameras, 3,774 message signs, 229 weather stations and 7,155 SOS phones.
The new contract will run from 16 March 2018 for seven years.