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N3 21C Refresh Project

FOR ACTION: Please make sure you read the section entitled 'Responsibilities for migration managers and local sites' prior to making decisions on your CRM proposals.

Please note : 21C Refresh orders are part of a managed migration activity and end customers are therefore unable to cease or cancel an order via CRM whilst the order is still in provision. Should you wish to amend your 21C Refresh order, please call the N3 Helpdesk on 0800 085 0503 option 3 and they can arrange this for you.


Welcome to the N3 21C refresh Project web page. This project will upgrade the remaining HSCIC centrally funded legacy services to Next Generation Access services. The legacy platforms are coming to end of life and can therefore no longer be supported. HSCIC, N3SP and their partners are working together to future proof the services provided to the NHS.

Who will be migrated?

NHS Organisations that have any of the following N3 catalogue services will be impacted by this project. Click on Service Migration table to see what new services will be provided.

N3-1-3 N3-2-17 N3-2-53
N3-2-2 N3-2-26 N3-2-54
N3-2-11 N3-2-27 N3-2-56
N3-2-11bis N3-2-28 N3-2-68
N3-2-14 N3-2-29 N3-3-3
N3-2-15 N3-2-31 N3-9-5
N3-2-16 N3-2-32 N3-9-6
  N3-2-33 N3-99-53

The project is limited to NHS organisations that are centrally funded.

Self-funding customers will be advised of the launch of the new products shortly.

CoIN Customers will be subject to separate negotiations to migrate to 21C products.

If there are any enquires regarding qualification for this project, please contact the N3SP Client Engagement team on 0800 085 0503 option 3.

Benefits of migrating to the new 21C products

There are a number of benefits in migrating to the new 21C products. These include:

  • New customer CPE resulting in improved reliability
  • In most cases, significantly improved bandwidth, resulting in greater performance and efficiencies for customers and users
  • Retirement of legacy products that will no longer be supported by N3’s suppliers
  • The ability to support agile organisations cost effectively
  • The ability to support more complex overlay services such as VoIP
  • The ability to support distributed flexible workforces
  • Faster local applications performance
  • Higher main and branch speed
  • Faster maintenance activity, such as software downloads/patches
  • A potential increasein Internet browsing speed 

Migration strategy

Implementation requirements

The process for the implementation of the new services will vary according to your current service and is subject to supplier availability in your geographical area. Information on the requirements for your particular migration can be found on the Service Migration table.


There are a number suppliers involved in this rollout including: Virgin Media, KCOM, Vodafone & BT. The geographical location of your site and N3’s commitment to delivering best value services to the NHSwill determine which supplier you will receive your circuit install/s from. The router installs and migration, however, will be carried out by BT.

Migration process

N3SP will ask you to log into the N3 CRM. Click on the ‘migration tab' and select one of the following options for each of your sites:

  • Accept proposed service
  • Cease existing connection
  • Not responsible for this site
  • Pending Cease or Move

Once the option has been made, we'll validate the details. If you accept the proposed service, we'll then send you an email asking you to complete a Web form to give us the exact location of your existing N3 service.

Responsibilities for migration managers and local sites

Each NHS Organsiation must nominate a migration manager and a deputy migration manager if they are not already assigned. It is the migration manager’s responsibility to:

  1. Ensure each organisation has a valid N3 Access Agreement.
  2. Carry out thorough site surveys.
  3. Log onto CRM and make a decision on their proposals when prompted by N3SP.
  4. Ensure timely & accurate completion of the webforms.
  5. Re-prioritise a site that has performance issues, with regards to steps 1-3 above.
  6. Ensure that all end sites are advised of the project and of the local responsibilities.
  7. Ensure the local site accept a migration date that is within 10 working days of circuit completion.
  8. Ensure the correct rack space and power requirements are available for the installs.
  9. Ensure the new service can be installed adjacent to the old service to aid with a seamless migration.
  10. Cascade pertinent project information to the wider TRUST community as appropriate.
  11. Inform the local N3SP helpdesk manager of any role, address or contact detail changes.

Important : N3SP have been asked the following question by Migration Managers:

"Is it possible to have a choice of router for the 21C Ethernet services, specifically where it may not currently be possible for a site to accommodate the router that is specified with the catalogue service being received?"

Unfortunately, offering a choice of router is not going to be possible for the 21C Refresh project. It is therefore even more imperative that thorough site surveys are completed prior to making decisions for the 21C Refresh proposals on CRM. The Migration Managers must identify any sites that will not be able to accept their allocated catalogue service, prior to placing orders. 

PLEASE NOTE: Failure to identify sites that are unable to accept the allocated catalogue service, thus leading to incomplete or failed installations, could incur extensive charges for the local customer. Please see the attached letter for full details.


Point 6 – This is extremely important. If users are not informed of the project, they may perceive that there are faults, damaging perception and potentially wasting the time of the NHS as well as all suppliers involved in the project. It is also very important that users are able to check that the migrated service is fully operational as soon as possible after migration to enable problems to be resolved prior to the old service being ceased. All ceases will happen within days of the migration happening, so if after checking local configurations first, the issue is deemed to be an N3 fault, it needs to be reported quickly.


It is estimated that in normal circumstances, the provision and migration of your new Ethernet services could take up to 100 working days’ dependent on the catalogue service being provided and subject to survey, therefore it is imperative that you carry out the above activities as soon as possible. If you have any sites that are currently suffering performance issues, please consider prioritising those sites.

Important site considerations

  • Can the two services be installed side by side?
  • Do you have overlay services that may be affected by the migration?
  • What Local Applications may be affected by the migration?
  • Do you need involvement of your own suppliers during the migration?
  • Will you need to amend local configurations as a result of the migration?

Impact of migration

The migration process has been designed to maintain service continuity and keep disruption to a minimum. As most sites have both a primary and secondary service, it will be possible to commission at least one leg of the new service whilst you continue to work on the current service. Once the new service has passed the acceptance tests, we can move your LAN connection across immediately to the new router, to get you up and working on the new service whilst we commission the second leg of that service. We will then need to have another short disruption in order to test the failover resilience of the new service.

For more detail follow

Dual Ethernet Migrations (N3-2-74, N3-2-75, N3-2-76, N3-2-77)

Single Ethernet Migrations (N3-2-78, N3-2-79, N3-2-86)

Temporary loss of voice and VPN services during migration

Where Voice or VPN services are provided, please note that there will be a temporary loss of this facility during migrations and so customers should make arrangements for alternative routing of voice calls. If customers need guidance on this issue, please contact N3 Helpdesk managers on 0800 085 0503 option 3.

There will be:

  • A new SIN number provided per site
  • No change to customer IP Addressing
  • No change to Access Control Lists (ACLs)
  • No change to any bespoke configuration
  • No change to quality of service.

Site recommendations

The new 21C services must be installed alongside your existing services, therefore the installation will require additional rack space and additional permanent 240V power supplies.

N3SP strongly recommends that the new router is deployed into a customer rack in line with The N3 User Guide, which states: “Customers must ensure that all router/hub/switch ports and other access points are closed/locked down to prevent unauthorized access.”

The new routers being provided are business-class devices, so it is essential that suitable mounting capability and the correct environment are provided. The rack will also help suppress any operational noise from the device. It is recommended that business-class routers are not housed close to where people are working, unless housed in a suitable cabinet.  

A number of recommended customer cabinets can be requested via the N3SP CRM Portal. Any additional rack required on site must be funded locally, and will not be covered by HSCIC.

Please note also that it is the responsibility of the migration manager to ensure that the local sites are able to provide the recommended housing and power requirements for the new installs.

The power supplies provided will need to be within two metres of where the new services are to terminate. Where Ethernet services are being installed, N3SP’s suppliers will need to survey the site to check line routes, so if you have any questions about the termination of the network equipment (circuits only), then that will be the time to ask. N3SP are unable to advise as to the installation steps for each service due to the wide number of variants that are possible, as explained within the implementation section above.

If it is not possible to install the old and new service side by side, you must complete a shift on their existing service to a location where both services can be adjacent. Only then can you submit a webform for the new 21C uplift.

PLEASE NOTE : Failure to accept adjacent installations on customer site could lead to the end customer being levied with significant cancellation charges for the incorrectly installed service as well as set up charges for the second attempt at installation.

Please see the below the 21C Uplift Project Technical Overview document for the housing and environmental requirements.

Local acceptance criteria

The performance of the 21C Ethernet services should be measured on NHS and local applications that are supported by an underlying quality of service. For those customers with Broadband services only, the testing will be based on accessing external URLs.

Once the service has been tested, you will be expected to sign an SRC certificate to confirm that they accept receipt of the new service as fit for purpose.

Product ‘settling’ period

There is no ‘settling’ period required for Ethernet, but for Broadband, the maximum stable rate is set within the first 10 days of the connection being activated. This is known as the ‘training’ period. During this time customers may experience a variance in speed and, possibly some intermittent service instability. However, this should stop once training has completed. In exceptional circumstances, 21C DSL may not deliver a noticeable change in bandwidth/latency to a site. If a site experiences performance post migration that is less than they were receiving prior to migration, please let N3SP know via your helpdesk manager and N3SP will discuss the cause and possible options with HSCIC.

Times of migration

We intend to complete all migrations during working hours (09:00-17:00) Monday to Friday. If you have a requirement for their service to be migrated out of hours, this will have to be funded locally and it will be charged at £270.

Due to the size and complexity of the rollout, migration appointments will be offered as an AM or a PM time slot. HSCIC ask that all end users be as flexible and as accommodating as they can be with N3SP and their suppliers, so that all migrations are completed as soon as possible, therefore safeguarding the continued performance of the N3 network for its users.

Technical overview

Please see the 21C technical overview document which details the specifics of every router associated with this project, the individual catalogue service limitations, design overview and the rack and environmental specifications required of each service.

Service levels

The service levels for the 21C products remain the same as your existing products. This is 5 hours to restore a working service and 24 hours to restore original configuration.

Opting out

The 21C Uplift Project is centrally funded and will address the need to replace all legacy components in the N3 network with Next Generation products. Most legacy products will no longer continue to be supported by N3’s suppliers. There is no option therefore to opt out of this rollout and still receive central funding.

Terms and conditions – please read carefully

As part of the migration from your old service to new, N3SP and HSCIC have agreed to cover reasonable levels of circuit rental cost associated with the migration cutover. Any unnecessary delays to the migration from the old service to the new will result in expensive dual running costs for the NHS.

The success of keeping these dual running costs to an absolute minimum and within anticipated levels is dependent upon the local customer responding to all appointment requests from the N3SP Delivery Team in a timely manner. N3SP will be aiming to complete all migrations within 10 working days of the circuit installs having been completed. If previously agreed migration appointments are cancelled by the local customer without good operational reason, then a rental charge for the extension of the dual running period may be levied to the local customer. Should this happen a second time, then HSCIC will consider the withdrawal of central funding for the service and the levying of all service cancellation charges to the local customer. Charges will vary according to the site and the N3SP Catalogue Service provided.

The router associated with the new 21C service will be sent directly to site a few days prior to the scheduled migration. It is the responsibility of the site to keep the router safe until the migration engineer arrives. Should a local site lose a router, the site will be charged for a replacement. This could be up to £9,400 depending on which catalogue service is being delivered.

The submission of a completed webform will constitute an order under the terms of your N3 Access Agreement.

Where current connections are migrated to 21C before the existing contract term has expired, the cancellation charges will be paid for centrally by HSCIC.

The contract term for 21C is three years from the date of migration.

Please contact the N3 Helpdesk managers on 0800 085 0503 option 3 if you have any questions about these terms and conditions.

Communications to expect

Implementation bulletin

The local migration managers, communications leads and other nominated contacts may be sent implementation bulletins from time to time by email. These will contain important information relating to the migration, and details of known problems and fixes. It is therefore important that they are read and acted upon promptly.

Communications from N3SP

N3SP will send emails to the local Migration Manager to advise:

  •       That decisions need to be made on the migration tab on CRM
  •       What decisions have been registered on the migration tab on CRM
  •       That a web form needs to be completed for the migrations accepted
  •       When the new circuit/s will be installed
  •       When the migration will take place
  •       The migration has been completed.

In order to speed up project delivery and save the migration manager’s time, N3SP will contact the local sites directly to make all of the provisioning appointments. The migration manager will be then be cc’d into all subsequent follow up e-mail confirmations, so that they are kept abreast of activity.

The N3 website will be kept up to date with the latest information on the project. Please visit regularly to find out what’s happening.

Further information about 21C? & about Ethernet provision

Please click here to view an Openreach video that articulates the process involved in Ethernet provision. This is a great starter for anyone wanting to understand the complexities involved in delivering these 21C services and why the lead times can be so protracted when challenges arise.

Please click here to view the list of 21C Refresh webforms that have been received by N3SP so far and which are therefore in the queue for delivery. N3SP will contact you once your site/s has moved to the point of order progression.

For more information on the 21C migration, please use one of the following contact options:         

N3SP Client Engagement Team

0800 085 0503 option 3

NHS HSCIC implementation manager

Details at

Contacting N3SP 

N3SP has a dedicated helpdesk to assist with any queries. If there are any existing problems with an N3 Service, please call your local IT support in the first instance.

To establish if the problem is N3 related, please try to access the Internet and clinical applications. If you can access the Internet and your clinical applications, please phone your local IT representative as the problem is not likely to be N3 related.

If your overlay services are failing to connect, please phone N3SP and raise a fault.

N3SP Helpdesk

0800 085 0503

Option one: Reporting new faults or updates on existing faults

Option two: Information on provision/migration of N3 Catalogue Services

Option three: All other enquiries