Fujitsu unveils city-beating superfast rural broadband

1Gbps fibre network vs BT's 40Mbps service
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Fujitsu has announced plans to create a superfast broadband network in competition with BT.

The networking division of the corporation is set to embark on a joint venture with British ISPs Virgin Media and Talk Talk as well as telco equipment outfit Cisco. However Fujitsu said the plans are dependent on "reasonable and non-discriminatory" BT pricing for access to ducts and telephone poles.

The firm is also planning on running fibre to the home "in the vast majority of areas" with speeds of up to 1Gbps with the potential to upgrade to 10Gbps.

Compared with BT's fibre to street cabinet network which tops out at 40MB/s, the Fujitsu plans raising the prospect of fibre based rural broadband being much faster than BT's urban equivalent.

The company is seeking £500 million of public money, virtually the entire budget the government has set aside for rural broadband projects.

BT greeted the news skeptically, telling the Register: "It is important that the companies concerned make it clear that they are willing to invest material sums rather than just spend public money in what could be a multi-billion project."

Fujitsu told Dow Jones Newswires that the company was looking to invest between £1.5 and £2 billion over the next three to five years. BT has committed £2.5 billion to the roll out of its own superfast network.

BT reiterated that the firm's own superfast broadband network is available to third parties to use on an "equal and non-discriminatory basis" however Fujitsu said that it would be targetting rural areas where BT will not be laying fibre.

"The proposals will provide future-proofed connectivity to five million households and beyond that would otherwise be unlikely to benefit from commercial investment in next generation digital networks," Fujitsu said.

If that's the case then the group would appear to have a reasonable argument for public funds.

Government communications minister Ed Vaizey said the network was "exactly the sort of ambition and innovation the government wanted" and that the network had the potential to "help improve the economic and social prospects of the homes and businesses where high-speed Internet access remains just a dream."

Image: Creative Commons by [Martin] (Flickr)

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