Fujitsu today announced plans to work in collaboration with Virgin Media, TalkTalk and Cisco to deliver next generation internet services to 5 million homes in rural Britain.
The collaboration and subsequent Fujitsu build of a new super fast, fibre optic broadband network is alternative to BT Openreach (a division of the British telecommunications operator BT Group) and provides an opportunity for any community or local authority looking to access a proportion of the £530 million earmarked by the UK Government to drive investment in super fast broadband in rural communities.
The Fujitsu open access wholesale network will be underpinned by Cisco technology. Virgin Media and TalkTalk intend to access wholesale products via this network in order to retail next generation services to customers in remote parts of the UK. The network will also be open to other service providers on wholesale terms.
Fujitsu's vision builds on the company's experience in both managing telecommunications networks and in building next generation "Fibre to the Home" (FTTH) networks.
The proposals will provide future-proofed connectivity to at least 5 million households that would otherwise be unlikely to benefit from commercial investment in next generation digital networks. In particular, according to Fujitsu's press release, the collaboration has the potential to transform rural broadband in the UK in a number of important ways:
In the vast majority of areas, Fujitsu will run fibre optic cabling directly to the home (FTTH), rather than to the local street cabinet. As a result, the Fujitsu network will be one gigabit (1Gbps) symmetric capable from day one with potential to go to 10Gbps and beyond.
Fujitsu's network will be "truly open access" to all ISPs offering the end customer an unrivaled choice of services over a single physical network connection.
Deployment across a wide range of underground and overhead infrastructure means that the Fujitsu network architecture is entirely independent of existing street cabinets. This model enables public investment to be targeted in areas where broadband provision is poorest.
The collaboration will actively support the involvement of local community broadband groups, enabling dynamic and flexible solutions in rural communities for the first time.
Super fast upload and download speeds can enable entertainment, remote healthcare, education and future government services without the need to travel. This future-proof infrastructure will shrink distances and will bring to rural Britain the services that the rest of the UK can enjoy today.
The plans rely on the remedy imposed by the regulator Ofcom, on BT Openreach, to provide access to its underground ducts and telegraph poles on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms.
Communication Minister Ed Vaizey said, "Super fast broadband is already helping businesses grow and improving the lives of those able to access it. But many rural and hard to reach areas are missing out. The whole of the UK should be able to share in the benefits of broadband and we are determined to make that happen by the end of the Parliament. That is why the Government is investing over £500m in taking super fast broadband to everyone.
"I am delighted that Fujitsu along with Virgin Media, TalkTalk and Cisco share the Government's vision," Vaizey said. "The collaboration between these companies was exactly the sort of ambition and innovation the Government wanted to stimulate by removing barriers to broadband rollout."
"Creating this superfast broadband network will help improve the economic and social prospects of the homes and businesses where high-speed internet access remains just a dream," Vaizey said.
Duncan Tait, CEO of Fujitsu UK and Ireland said, "There is a unique opportunity for the UK to re-establish itself as a world leader by having the world's most advanced fibre network. If done correctly this can be a key vehicle to accelerate recovery in the UK and bring genuine choice to generations of communities starved of participating fully in the UK economy. We believe our approach, in collaboration with these major industry leaders, will provide a future proofed network for at least the next 20 to 30 years."
Virgin Media's CEO, Neil Berkett, said: "We now have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make the ambition of a digitally-enabled society a reality beyond the country's cities and towns."
Cisco UK & Ireland's CEO, Phil Smith, said, "Cisco is focused on driving the best superfast broadband in Europe to communities, towns and cities. We are committed to economic development, digital inclusion and improved public services such as health care and education. Fujitsu's approach to building an open-access wholesale platform promotes innovation and competition across the UK. Underpinned by Cisco's next-generation technology, this partnership has the opportunity to revolutionize the digital agenda for rural Britain."