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BT ducts critical to rural fibre collaboration

Cliff Saran

Communications Minister Ed Vaizey has welcomed a UK broadband initiative involving Fujitsu, Virgin Media, Cisco and TalkTalk.

Through the collaboration, the companies have agreed to build a superfast, fibre optic broadband network, which they claim will operate as an alternative to BT Openreach. They said the network will provide an opportunity for any community or local authority looking to access a proportion of the £530m earmarked by the UK government to drive investment in superfast broadband in rural communities.

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.

Last week Fujitsu, Virgin Media, TalkTalk, Geo and Vtesse Networks sent a letter to Vaizey, in which they called on BT to revise its pricing. "We are unanimous in the belief that the BDUK competitive procurement process will lack a credible alternative to BT, should BT fail to make substantial revisions to PIA [physical infrastructure access] product pricing," said the letter.

"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. I am delighted that Fujitsu, along with Virgin Media, TalkTalk and Cisco, share the government's vision. The collaboration between these companies was exactly the sort of ambition and innovation the government wanted to stimulate by removing barriers to broadband roll-out," Vaizey said.


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