And then there were two
Unconfirmed reports suggest that BT and Fujitsu Telecom are the only suppliers left from nine in BDUK’s framework process for funnelling £530m into the market for high speed broadband access in rural areas.
Cable & Wireless Worldwide, believed to the most recent to quit the process, is deeply in debt and a take-over target for mobile operator Vodafone and India-based Tata Communications.
Dark fibre network operator Geo Networks quit the game in November saying the price for access to BT’s pipes and ducts (PIA) inhibited the development of a competitive network landscape.
Vtesse Networks, which has provided fibre to cabinets in a couple of small Hertfordshire villages, withdrew in mid-2011. In written evidence to the House of Lords communication committee, which is investigating the UK’s efforts to develop “Broadband Britain”, Vtesse said, “The regulatory and fiscal barriers we identified in 2009 still remain. As a result of these, we have decided not to proceed with further roll-out of residential services, and no longer engage with BDUK.”
Fujitsu, which has tested BT’s PIA product, earlier strongly condemned BT’s initial pricing of the product. With Virgin Media and TalkTalk it wrote to Ofcom, saying the PIA price was five times higher than cost. BT then made modest changes to the price but introduced other fees.
The original nine on BDUK’s long list, which BDUK expected to cut to six, are BT, Fujitsu Telecom, Network Rail, Capita, BeyondDSL, Parsons Brinkershoff (Balfour Beatty, ALU and Cable&Wireless Worldwide), Kcom, Thales and Geo.