The future of rural broadband rests with community FTTP, claims a Cumbrian MP after Fujitsu dropped its bid to build a superfast broadband network for the county.
Tim Farron described the latest setback to the 18-month-old rural broadband pilot scheme as a ‘self-inflicted blow’, leaving BT as the only bidder for more than £25m in public funds.
But Farron, the Liberal Democrat MP for South Lakes, believes the future of Cumbria’s rural broadband lies with community fibre-to-the-premises schemes like Fibre Garden.
Farron 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.”
Fujitsu told Cumbria County Council that is would not be economic to build the network as part of its national plan to reach at least one million homes for ISPs like Virgin Media and TalkTalk.
Fibre GarDen is a project launched by the communities of Dentdale and Garsdale, in the Yorkshire Dales, to build service using a fibre-to-the-premises and 4G wireless to provide more-than-50Mbps broadband.
It’s similar to the model used by B4RN in Lancashire, and the organisers are now developing a share offering and bidding for rural broadband funding.