The Joint Academic Network (Janet) will provide the backbone for all public-sector information technology, according to Maxwell Irvine, chair of the Joint Information Systems Committee.
Higher education institutions will club together with further education colleges, schools, hospitals, public libraries, museums, galleries and small businesses to use high-capacity connections.
Professor Irvine revealed his vision at the launch of JISC's five-year strategy last week. He said that 30 of the 39 government e-initiatives, from the e-university to government information service UKonline, are already built on Janet.
The main problem, said Professor Irvine, was getting organisations to work together. A single IT solution for a public-sector network would provide internet access in public areas such as libraries and post offices as well as in educational institutions.
Although a small higher education institution might not be able to justify a broadband connection, if it shared it with local further education colleges, public libraries and small businesses, the connection would become more affordable.
Local institutions would form companies that would negotiate shared connections to Janet with the JISC. The JISC would provide the broadband-network connections through Janet.
"The biggest challenge is to convince all our clients we are looking after their interests," said Professor Irvine.