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UK Government Black Marks Fujitsu Superfast Broadband Bids as High Risk

Friday, September 14th, 2012 (1:11 pm) - Score 997

The governments Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has confirmed that Fujitsu UK, which alongside BT is one of only two telecoms operators bidding for major national superfast broadband deployment contracts, is now classified as “high risk” and thus subject to additional scrutiny.

Fujitsu’s change of status follows an FT article earlier this week, which revealed that the Japanese firm had been classified as “high risk” following problems with an unrelated £900m NHS IT contract. At the time it wasn’t known whether this also applied to the group’s telecoms division, although apparently it does.

DCMS Statement (The Register)

The suppliers appointed to the BDUK framework are Fujitsu and BT. Frameworks are within the scope of HMG’s supplier performance policy, and any supplier identified as high risk will be scrutinised particularly carefully before the award of further work.”

The situation is particularly thorny because of Europe’s on-going competition concerns with the related Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) process. The European Commission (EC) is currently delaying the release of state aid funding by the UK government, which is believed to be affecting nearly thirty Local Broadband Plans (LBPs), until its concerns have been addressed (e.g. lack of competing operators, no Dark Fibre access, sub-30Mbps speed targets etc.); that decision is expected this month.

Meanwhile BT is continuing to win all of the announced BDUK contracts, picking up another two for Norfolk and Cumbria today, while Fujitsu’s alternative rural FTTH network proposal is increasingly beginning to look more like a patsy for helping to convince Europe that BT has some competition.

Today’s news will have the impact of making Fujitsu’s proposals even less attractive to local authorities but it won’t block them from bidding, at least not directly, as some other reports have suggested. In practical terms it won’t make much difference anyway since most already expect BT to win the lion’s share of public funding, although it could fuel the fire for those demanding change in the existing process and that might be a good thing (e.g. open it up to smaller operators).

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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4 Responses
  1. Fujitsu must have come close to winning some then? So we’ll block them. Its all a one horse race, always has been. Everything else is too much of a risk. The incumbent can always proclaim 99.8 success like it did with first generation broadband and politicians can bask in the glory. The fact that it isn’t accurate does not matter. Its only now, a decade later that the regulator has admitted a third of the country is underserved. (Finalthirdfirst) Votes are what count to politicians.

    We need men of fibre to build a truly digital britain. Tell the truth and shame the devil my gran always used to say. Without marketing budgets the people don’t have a lobby. Small businesses don’t have a lobby. All politicians hear are those with vested interests in keeping the old phone network running for another decade for shareholders and management on vast salaries and bonuses. In another few years they will finally realise we have missed the boat. We need fibre. Moral and optic.

    Start at the hardest to reach places, take a risk, support altnets to build in rural areas by levelling the playing field, let the telcos deal with the cities and then market forces will take over, as the rural fibre networks will be high capacity, low maintenance and everyone will see how much better they are and the copper bubble will burst, the light will shine and we all can be digital by default.

    The risk is that by not taking a risk we are condemned to another decade at least of copper. And after struggling along for another generation we’ll still have to lay fibre one day, so why not do it now? The house of Lords listened. Digital hubs, enabling altnets to build out everywhere and break the monopoly throttling the country. Put public money where it will make a difference in the long term, not short term speed for the low hanging fruit…

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