Telecommunications Networks – A Vital Part of the Critical National Infrastructure

This document explains how the UK’s telecommunications networks are a vital component of the country’s Critical National Infrastructure, the ways in which resilience in both networks and services is achieved and the roles of
government and other agencies in the maintenance of this capability.
This document contains information for all those who need to have a basic understanding of the electronic communications environment, ranging from Senior Information Risk Owners (SIRO’s), Business Continuity Managers and Emergency Planners in central, regional and local government as well as businesses part of the CNI.
Recently, telecommunications has been going through radical change. Many of these changes are being influenced by the convergence of technologies, particularly computers and telecommunications, as well as broadcast, the internet and other information services. This convergence of technologies, has led to the era of the Information Society. It has always been acknowledged that telecommunications is essential for the economic, social and cultural development of society, but that requirement has become even more evident as the Information Age is increasingly recognised as the future of all societies.

From a regulatory perspective, the European Directives are encouraging a free market approach and the UK regulator Ofcom recognises that this approach will bring new services, technologies and opportunities for increased
innovation and potential for competition leading to reduced costs.

There are regulatory obligations on electronic communications providers in relation to resilience and emergency planning; for the wider market there are duties and powers provided through a number of different pieces of
legislation. However, the industry has shown its ability to work with government on a voluntary basis to improve emergency planning arrangements. These plans are well developed and regularly tested.

Most central and local government telecommunications systems are today provided by the industry, and there is a requirement for customers of these services to have some form of understanding of how the UK Telecom Network
functions. This document aims to fulfil this need.

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