BT has open field for rural broadband contracts - Fujitsu pulls out

Two further broadband contracts have been awarded to BT today

After winning every single government-funded rural broadband deal so far, BT now has an open field to win the rest after Fujitsu pulled out of future bidding.

BT and Fujitsu were the only two suppliers going for the £530 million state funding to deliver superfast broadband in rural areas, after a number of other suppliers decided not to enter into a framework bidding process.

Since last year BT has used its existing extensive broadband network and commercial services to win every multi-million pound contract offered by local authorities, with the help of government cash.

Fujitsu told the Financial Times newspaper: "Various conditions surrounding the process, which we have discussed with the government, effectively rule Fujitsu out of the competition for new areas.

"So while we remain supportive of the process and its objectives, we are not actively pursuing opportunities within it."

Fujitsu's withdrawal also attracted critcism from Labour shadow telecoms minister Helen Goodman, who claimed: "This ill-thought-out process has been bad for competition, bad for consumers and a disgraceful waste of public money."

If businesses in poorly served rural areas do eventually get superfast broadband at a reasonable price though, they may beg to differ.

In the latest rural broadband deals announced today, BT has won an £8 million deal from Northamptonshire County Council, and a £20 million deal from Kent County Council, who are both aiming to boost their local economies with more companies and consumers connected to superfast fibre broadband.

But local authorities currently negotiating with BT on future deals will presumably be keeping a close eye on any change in BT conditions since Fujitsu left the field completely, as will the government.

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