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Technology giant Fujitsu, has today withdrawn from bidding for Cumbria’s rural broadband contract. Reacting to the news South Lakes MP Tim Farron has called on the government to step in and run the project directly.
The MP was a key member of the team that helped secure the original £23.8 million funding from BDUK and the Department of Culture, Media and Sport for the roll out of the broadband scheme. Tim has also been calling for Cumbria to be the first county to be a 4G area.
He has previously raised concerns about the project’s progress, calling on the County Council to make sure that the broadband rollout project does not become a 'White Elephant' and that Cumbria gets the superfast broadband it needs. With Fujitsu pulling out only BT remain as the only bidder for the contract.
Duncan Tait, CEO of Fujitsu, told the Financial Times newspaper today: “We withdrew from Cumbria because we cannot currently see a clear path towards a mass market that is required to attract leading retail service providers. We continue to monitor the market place and see where we can get this to make sense."
Back in the autumn of 2010, the Government announced that Cumbria had been picked as one of four rural pilot areas eligible for a multi-million pound fund to help bring superfast broadband to rural areas. Since then the county council has been going through a tendering and preparatory process to try and award the contract. This was widely expected to have been done today.
However, it is believed that Fujistu submitted an incomplete bid, thus rendering their application void by default and that BT’s bid could not deliver the required level of service needed to allow Cumbria to catch up with other parts of the country which already have super-fast broadband.
He said: "This is another blow for the broadband project and sadly another self inflicted blow by the County Council. This process has been going on for 18 months now and it’s appalling that we’ve not been able to move any further. Securing the modern infrastructure our county needs should be one of the council’s top priorities.”
“I want to see the county council supporting community schemes which are ready to be rolled out, such as Fibre Garden in Garsdale and Dentdale. This would help to get things moving whilst we continue to work to bring super-fast broadband to the whole of Cumbria. I am happy to help the county council engage with the Government, to make sure that we can finally make the progress we all want to see.”