Fujitsu leaves BT as last bidder for Cumbria broadband
By Stewart Mitchell
Posted on 11 Jul 2012 at 11:45
Fujitsu has pulled out of the government-backed funding process for providing superfast broadband in Cumbria, leaving BT as the only bidder in the area.
Fujitsu said couldn't make a profit in the area, despite the winning service provider receiving £40 million in funding as part of the government’s £530 million broadband scheme, being handled by Broadband Delivery UK.
“We withdrew from Cumbria because we cannot currently see a clear path towards a mass market that is required to attract leading retail service providers,” said Fujitsu CEO Duncan Tait in a statement first sent to the Financial Times and confirmed to PC Pro.
We cannot currently see a clear path towards a mass market that is required to attract leading retail service providers
The withdrawal comes just weeks after Cumbria Council officials sent both BT and Fujitsu away to work on their bids, claiming that neither company had proposed schemes that fulfilled the region’s requirements.
Fujitsu said the setback hadn’t put it off going through the BDUK process in other areas, but that it would only do so if it could see a way of selling services to retail partners such as Virgin Media at a sufficient scale.
“We continue to monitor the market place and see where we can get this to make sense,” Tait said. “We will look at each on its own merits and see if there is a way to make it work and get to the scale we need for our anchor tenants.”
The move means Cumbria will be left to negotiate with only BT over how the project to provide at least 25Mbits/sec to 90% of the county's population should be implemented, putting the telco in a major position of strength.
Cumbria could delay awarding the contract to BT in the hope of obtaining a better deal than the one it recently rejected, but such tactics would lead to further delays in a procurement process that first began nearly two years ago.
Officials said the council would make a final decision on the shape of its contract later this year.
“Although today’s news is disappointing for us, we completely understand Fujitsu’s reasons, particularly as these are national rather than specific to Cumbria,” said councillor Elizabeth Mallinson, who is responsible for Connecting Cumbria.
“We will now focus our resources to complete the process in order to secure an outcome which meets the needs of Cumbria and its communities. Cabinet will now make a final decision to award the contract later this year in September.”
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