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By: MarkJ - 28 November, 2011 (7:17 AM)
scotland uk regions mapfibre_optic_broadband_internet_cable.jpgScotland's Highlands & Islands Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant, has warned that a lack of public money appears to be turning the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) offices bidding process into a one horse race with BT as the only interested party of any serious scale.

Grant claims that she is "deeply concerned" to learn that both Cable & Wireless (C&W) and Fujitsu have now "withdrawn" their tenders from the bidding process for public money. Geo also left the process last week (here), although it's unclear whether they were bidding for the H&I region. There is also some doubt about whether or not Fujitsu even tabled a bid.

Labour MSP, Rhoda Grant, said:

"I am deeply concerned to learn than a second bidder, Cable & Wireless, has withdrawn its tender for the Highlands & Islands broadband pilot. This follows Fujitsu backing out last week due to the lack of public money being invested in the project.

This pilot is of vital importance to every community throughout the Highlands & Islands and it is essential that more public money is invested in this project – so far only 10% of the estimated costs have been secured.

Westminster is presently investing more in broadband in Scotland than our own Scottish government is and this needs to change. That said, I am appealing again to Westminster to release the remaining money it has set aside for rural broadband (£167m) but I am also calling on our government at Holyrood not only to introduce its broadband action plan with immediate effect but also to urgently increase the amount it is investing in Scotland’s digital future."

A spokesman for Fujitsu's partner, Virgin Media UK, informed ISPreview.co.uk that they "don't think Fujitsu was ever bidding for H&I". However the cable giant did confirm that "the withdrawal of C&W does leave just BT interested in this area".

It should be clarified that Fujitsu are certainly still involved in BDUK, just not the H&I region. It's unclear how this will impact their plans to reach 5 Million homes in rural areas with a 1Gbps capable FTTH broadband network by 2016 and act as an alternative to BT's national platform.

The government's BDUK office recently allocated £68.8 Million of its £530m budget to help the Scottish Government bring superfast broadband services (24Mbps+) to 90% of "people in each local authority area" by March 2015. The money now forms part of Scotland's £144.3 Million Digital Strategy fund, although its national broadband plan won't be revealed until early 2012, which puts them more than a year behind England and Wales.

UPDATE 09:37am

Fujitsu have just been in touch to confirm that, "It is only the Highlands and Islands bid that we have withdrawn from as the sums simply did not stack up."
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