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By: MarkJ - 29 September, 2011 (8:56 AM)
uk_fibre_optic_broadband_developmentukFujitsu, which is currently working alongside TalkTalk , Virgin Media and Cisco on the Open Access Wholesale Network (OAWN) project (here) that could potentially offer ultrafast 1Gbps (1000Mbps) capable broadband ISP services to 5 Million UK premises in rural areas by 2016, has finally connected the first homes to its Greasby (Wirral Peninsula) trial.

The plan is highly dependent upon government funding and BT's controversial Physical Infrastructure Access (PIA) product pricing, which allows Fujitsu to run its own Fibre-to-the-Home ( FTTH ) network through BT's existing underground cable ducts and overhead telegraph poles.

Jon James, Virgin Media's Executive Director of Broadband, said:

"Just two miles away is a road recently identified as having one of the slowest broadband connections in the whole country. We want to change that and make superfast broadband something that can be accessed by everyone. This is an exciting opportunity to work in Greasby with some of the world’s leading technology companies to test a network capable of the speeds we can deliver in towns and cities on our own cable network, helping bridge the digital divide between urban and rural areas and reinvigorating our international competitiveness."

Work on the first 6-month trial officially began at the end of July 2011, although this marks the first time that any actual homes have been connected. Residential customers can expect to receive service speeds of 100Mbps from special packages, which will be supplied by both Virgin Media and TalkTalk .

The OAWN project is also "heavily involved" with the UK governments recently announced £2bn tender for a new national framework agreement, which aims to help bring superfast broadband (24Mbps+) ISP services to 90% of "people in each local authority area" by 2015.

However the project will find it difficult to move beyond a trial unless all of the involved parties can agree upon a fair price for BT's PIA product. This is particularly crucial as the government's Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) office has already allocated most of its £530m public funding and any delay could disadvantage OAWN's ability to bid.
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