Just one player left in the race for BDUK funding
The Financial Times reported last night that Fujitsu no longer intends to bid for contracts under the BDUK framework. For those not already aware, those local authorities following the BDUK framework were only able to select from two 'approved' providers, BT or Fujitsu.
Well back in 2012 there was signs that the Fujitsu entry was probably not going to go very far, and we had heard that Fujitsu needed a scale of around 1 million properties in four adjoining counties to make winning any BDUK work worthwhile.
Perhaps the only way the BDUK would have really got other parties seriously interested in bidding would have been to have firewalled the requirement to provider a wholesale operation for a period of five or more years. Alas this would probably fell foul of the EU state aid rules, and legal challenges from BT themselves.
Even if Fujitsu which has a wealth of experience in delivering fibre network infrastructure was bidding aggressively, the lack of visible retail offering already using their network would mean many council members would still plump for the more well known name, simply because it was seen as the safe choice. There was the trial run in Greasby, but we have no idea of what has happened to this two years on.
The original Fujitsu plan was to offer a FTTH service to some 5 million households, but later information suggested they were looking at an 80% coverage target, generally connecting the suburban and small towns that the commercial fibre roll-out by Openreach was going to reach. It may be that this lower coverage threshold using wireless and other options to in-fill in the rural areas was always a sticking point in council negotiations.
Thinking outside the box it is possible that with the recent purchase of Virgin Media by Liberty Global, Virgin Media may have re-assessed its involvement in the scheme. A lot depends on what plans Liberty Global has in mind for Virgin Media, which is the great unknown for now.