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Fujitsu pulls out of Cumbria broadband but not out of UK

Fujitsu has axed its bid to build a rural broadband network in Cumbria but will continue to bid in other areas where there are enough customers to sell on to internet providers.

The decision leaves BT as the region’s only bidder after Cumbria County Council sent both companies back to the drawing board because their plans didn’t meet its needs.

The Japanese company said it needs to reach a million customers to have a market it can open to ISPs like Virgin Media and Talk Talk.

“It need to make economic sense and we do not believe that we would be able to deliver enough customers to our anchor tenants,” a spokesperson said.

“At this stage there are only a couple of areas that have been sorted out and it’s a long way before we reach the point where there are not enough areas to bid for.

“We will take each tender on its merits and look at the way each tender works and what the local authority wants.”

The government has committed £530m to building high speed broadband networks in rural areas, with additional funds available from the EU.

The funding process has been widely criticised by potential network providers, leaving BT and Fujitsu as the only bidders anywhere in the UK.

BT has won tenders for Rutland and Lancashire, and is tipped to win the North Yorkshire contract later this week.

Broadband Delivery UK was created to achieve the government’s goals universal access to at least 2Mbps broadband for all UK homes and businesses by 2015, and to give the UK ‘the best superfast broadband in Europe’.

It’s not clear whether the second commitment means 24Mbps for most people or a thousand homes with multi-Gigabit broadband – either of which could be lauded as ‘best in Europe’.

The first stage of Broadband Delivery UK’s rural scheme is four pilot areas, none of which has yet selected a winning network provider.