Fujitsu reveals UK fast rural broadband network ambitions

14 April 2011 |


The Japanese firm Fujitsu has announced its intentions to create a super fast broadband network for rural parts of the UK.

Aiming to deliver next generation internet services to five million homes in rural UK, Fujitsu has said it would collaborate with Virgin Media and Talk Talk to provide internet services over the network, while Cisco will supply the technology. The network would provide an alternative to BT Openreach which provides the existing local access network in the UK.

The move, however, will require £500 million of UK government funding put aside to stimulate rural broadband projects. According to reports, if the company was not to secure this sum, the network will not be built.

Weighing up Fujitsu’s prospects of securing such a sum, David James, analyst at Ovum, commented: “Fujitsu are looking to secure £500 million out of a total government fund of £530 million, which seems an unrealistically high proportion. The fund will also be locally administered so it will be granted on a case by case basis in different regions of the country. This presents a challenge but if Fujitsu started in a few areas and made a case for it then this will add credibility.”

According to estimates, a third of the UK is still not served by commercial broadband solutions because it is uneconomical to offer them in remote areas.

Subject to funding, the Fujitsu network would offer Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) capable of delivering speeds in excess of 1Gbps. This existing BT system relies on slower Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) technology and only offers speeds of up to 40Mbps.

Fujitsu’s plans also include building much of its system on infrastructure owned by BT Openreach, such as underground ducting and phone poles. BT has been under pressure from the UK regulator Ofcom to reduce the charges for access to its existing infrastructure.

“There is an ongoing issue over the prices BT Openreach charges for access to infrastructure, which will need to be resolved before this can move forward,” said James.

“[The UK funding for rural broadband] will be attractive to a number of other companies. Fujitsu’s announcement is probably just the first and we can expect more.”