There is nothing more amusing than seeing an offer of something that is "free", especially in relation to the internet. A cursory look at the details in supposedly "free broadband" offers show you that. Unsuprisingly the same rules apply in Government as well when something si said to be "free".
Today the Department of Communites and Local Government has announced that "Government Connect" - a project which allows local government to securely connect into central government - is "to be free for Local Authorities". The small print's in the "Notes for Editors" section which says:
5. What is GC free; subject to the applicable terms and conditions local authorities shall receive:
a) Free Connection to GCSx up to a maximum 2mb line.
b) Free running costs of the GCSx line until March 2008 or 12 months from installation whichever comes first.
c) Free Anti-virus on email for the first 1,000 GC users per local authority.
So that's 1000 users over a "maximum" 2meg leased line which has a limited free period? Can't imagine network performance will be particularly efficient on the free line which local authorities will have to start paying for at the end of the offer. Not to mention that it's taxpayers money that being used to pay for this initially and it will be errr... taxpayers money that will pay for it afterwards.
There really is no such thing as a free lunch.