BT wins networking contract for UK nuclear site Sellafield

Paving the way for the role of AI in the future of nuclear waste processing

UK telephony outfit British Telecom has won a five-year deal for networking at the Sellafield nuclear site in northwest England.

The contract with Sellafield Ltd is worth £32 million ($39 million) and will provide what is described as a "comprehensive" network service to all Sellafield locations (including the UK's largest nuclear site). £2 million (c $2.4 million) will be invested in local community initiatives in West Cumbria as part of the contract.

Wide and local area network services are covered, as are core and gateway services, telephony, and cybersecurity. Conferencing technology is also included and Sellafield Ltd is eyeing a future involving IoT and 5G.

BT is under a bit of pressure at the moment. Unionized workers downed tools at its call centers in recent weeks and engineers at its Openreach subsidiary also went on strike over a pay award. The company's own payday courtesy of Sellafield Ltd will therefore be of comfort to workers complaining about theirs.

As for the £2 million community chest, it will "help tackle the causes of inequality" among the most vulnerable in West Cumbria, according to Ashish Gupta, MD Corporate and Public Sector for BT's Enterprise unit.

Part of the site's digital transformation will include the "capability to overlay new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence," the country's dominant telco said.

The Sellafield site in Cumbria has long since ceased generating nuclear power. Reprocessing of nuclear fuel at the Magnox Reprocessing Plant ended just this year, and the site is now all about nuclear waste processing and decommissioning.

Yesterday, the site celebrated a delivery milestone concerning the manufacture and testing of two large pressure vessels. If further testing goes well, another five will be manufactured for the filtering of nuclear material from liquid waste before discharge into the sea.

The BT contract is only one of a number being let by Sellafield Ltd as it pursues a multi-supplier model. The network will not be dealing with toxic waste, unless one counts the interminable Teams and Skype conferences it is expected to host. ®

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