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Sunday, 31 August 2014

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Cumbria superfast broadband project delayed again

The project to roll-out superfast broadband across Cumbria was today hit by another delay when county councillors deferred a decision to award a £40 million contract to either BT or Fujitsu.

Liz Mallinson  photo
Liz Mallinson

The council’s cabinet had been due to pick one of the two telecommunications giants, but decided that the tenders submitted would not have been capable of realising their ambition to have 90 per cent of Cumbrian homes and businesses with broadband speeds of 25Mbps by 2015.

It is now 20 months since the Government first announced that it was giving a multi-million subsidy to Cumbria and three other pilot areas to provide superfast broadband.

Up to £40m is available in subsidies for the winning company to ensure that superfast broadband reaches every part of Cumbria.

The project has been hit by a number of delays but now BT and Fujitsu have been effectively sent back to the drawing board to up their offer and come back with a better solution.

Negotiations with the two final bidders will be re-opened and the council wants to consider an improved offer when it meets in September.

Councillors discussed the project in a private session today and voted to approve a recommendation from officers to reject the bids.

A statement from the council said: “The council will invite both suppliers to engage in an intense process of formal negotiation that will focus on securing a final contract for the delivery of superfast broadband in Cumbria that fully meets the needs and aspirations of the Connecting Cumbria programme.”

Commenting on the decision, Coun Elizabeth Mallinson, Cabinet member with lead for the Connecting Cumbria project said: “Today was an extremely difficult decision for cabinet but we are confident it is the right thing to do.

“Although we have not identified a preferred supplier at this stage we have made significant progress in terms of our overall broadband strategy for Cumbria, both in this procurement process and in attracting public and private funding to help deliver superfast broadband across rural and urban Cumbria.”

Fujitsu declined to comment on the council's decision but BT issued a statement saying: “We will continue to work with the council as we are keen to win what is a highly contested tender.”

Have your say

Marraman, I am afraid it is you who speaks nonsense on this matter. You would be wise to read TB's more considered reaction.

It is simply impossible for "experts" to make all decisions. And even if it was possible, which experts do we choose? Are you sufficiently naive to believe that experts would all recommend the same solution? If life was that simple, we would know the one true answer to current economic woes. Sadly, however, expert economists differ enormously in their expert opinions.

So, in a democracy, we elect some of our peers and vest in them authority to act on our behalves and on the basis of appropriate advice.

You may believe such a system to be inefficient, but your suggests on expert governance betray huge misunderstanding and a rather shallow appreciation of the position.

Posted by Dave on 21 June 2012 at 17:30

And what is your point James? We are using existing infrastructure here. We are living with the legacies of decisions many many decades ago. Which were right at the time but now represent difficulties in scaling up.

South Korea is very different. Thirty years ago it's most advanced areas were us fifty years ago, and in their worst places, were us in the seventeenth century.

Almost all their recent development has been new from the ground up. There is no legacy, like here.

It is cheaper to do it new, especially in areas in which labour is cheap, than it is here which laying new technology on top of old infrastructure.

The exchange in Carlisle is just off Botchergate. It is there for no purpose that suits the modern world except it was the old GPO exchange building after the war.

Much of the infrastructure is based on 'it's always been there'.

Many people are using copper wires that were put up in the late sixties. The *same* cable, often in older houses the extension cable can be pre sixties.

In the UK we get an amazing job done by BT openreach (bt retail are another case) who maintain the lines and carry out the investment. We probably have some of the best competition and prices in the west.

It is frustrating when you live in a rural area or any area that is outside of the 4km-5km from the exchange sweet spot for broadband.

Posted by TB on 20 June 2012 at 13:20

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