Government agency Becta has quelled channel speculation by naming the 16 resellers that have won exclusive contracts to supply software to UK schools.
PC World Business, Stone Computers, Misco and Trustmarque Solutions are included on the list that will be entered into this year's Software Licensing Catalogue. This provides schools, educational establishments and Local Education Authorities (LEAs) with a three-year price guide for a range of software licences, including open-source products.
Jeffrey Phillips, project manager at Becta, said: "All the resellers were chosen based on an EU-compliant procurement framework agreement that aims to offer value for money, quality of service and a wide range of choice to the educational sector."
Becta also said the framework aims to provide schools with a clearer understanding of market prices, allowing them to purchase systems and software based on guide prices, or to use it when negotiating added-value packages with resellers.
LEAs purchasing larger equipment bundles on behalf of schools in their catchment area can also use framework prices in the catalogue as a guide.
Becta invited resellers to bid for the framework deals in October. The chosen 16 will also be certified to offer a range of services to schools, including licence management and technical support.
Ross Miller, chief executive of Trustmarque Solutions, said: "It's always positive to win a tender, and we will support it fully as we continue to grow our education market share. We don't see great opportunities for a single reseller in this deal, but we will compete with the others wherever we see an opportunity."
Stuart Nicholson, tenders and bids manager at Misco, said competition between the chosen resellers will be tough. "There's an opportunity for the bigger resellers to steal business from the smaller ones," he said.
Simon Pettit, marketing manager at Stone Computers, agreed. "Becta laid down some very stringent rules in the original
tender, but I'm sure there are enough resellers on the list to cause some intense competition," he said.
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