Have BT & Fujitsu unlocked BDUK’s millions for rural broadband?
It appears that BT and Fujitsu have signed contracts to supply broadband infrastructure under the BDUK framework following months of negotiation between the department of culture media and sport and the European Commission’s competition authorities over state aid issues.
Unconfirmed reports on the EDP24 website say the county councils’ broadband procurement programmes can begin at last after the names of the two suppliers were revealed last night. However, the press release sites for BT, Fujitsu, DCMS and the DG Competition, which has to rubber stamp the terms and conditions for state aid, carry no mention of the deal.
Br0kenTeleph0n3 understands that a deal has been done, but it’s being downplayed as a ‘soft launch’. However, officials have been told not to deny it if asked.
The government has set aside more than £830m of taxpayers’ money to extend high speed broadband into rural areas and provide cities with up to 100Mbps services. Contracts are expected to enjoy matched funding from the suppliers, and unknown millions more from the EU and other sources like Defra.
The hold-up was apparently due to the DG wanting taxpayers’ money spent on projects that would see the UK’s broadband not spots gets access to a minimum 30Mbps download service between now and 2020. This is above the proposed 24Mbps previously offered by BT and Fujitsu.
BT and Fujitsu were later said to be refusing to sign the procurement framework contract because the extra 6Mbps target is likely to raise their costs considerably. However, contracts already signed, such as in Cornwall and Rutland, will apparently go ahead because they were done outside the BDUK framework.
Cumbria County Council recently rejected proposals from both suppliers, sayin it is looking for a ‘future-proof’ solution.
It will be interesting to learn who blinked. Did BT and Fujitsu agree to go for a minimum 30Mbps service? Did DCMS agree to give them more taxpayers’ cash? Did the DG compromise Europe’s Digital Agenda targets in the UK’s case?
We hope to find out on Monday.