Local council rejects BT and Fujitsu's broadband bids


The rollout of superfast broadband in Cumbria has hit a stumbling block after the local county council rejected bids from BT and Fujitsu for failing to meet its tender requirements.

Both firms have been given time to amend their bids, with the council describing the reasons for rejecting their initial proposals as complex.

The council refused to go into detail about the exact reasons for the rejection, citing commercial sensitivities.

"Cabinet received detailed submissions from the final two potential suppliers (Fujitsu and BT) and despite a lot of progress being made, neither of the final tenders had completely fulfilled the original and full requirements of the procurement process," the council said in a statement.

"Both suppliers will now be invited to take part in new negotiations, which will lead to revised final tenders being submitted later this year," said the council.

"We will continue to work with the authority to try and secure what is a highly contested tender," said a BT spokesperson.

According to the original tender notice, the council said it wanted to "deliver optimum geographic coverage". The aim was for complete coverage across the Cumbria sub-region, "including rural, remote and sparsely populated areas" to a minimum speed of 2Mbps.

The council was awarded 17 million from the public purse to deploy rural superfast broadband. The bid rejections are seen as a setback to Government plans to improve connectivity and access within the region.

The area was chosen by the Government as a pilot scheme to show how rural areas could get connected to fibre. It was selected by government body BDUK, which is tasked with distributing public subsidies for superfast internet connectivity.

As well as 17 million from BDUK, Cumbria has also received 6.3 million from a Government performance award grant, which will be used to fund broadband provisioning. The council is also hoping for another 20 million from the EU.

A final decision on the bids will now be made in September.

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.