BT Wins One Horse Cumbrian BDUK Race
BT has been awarded the BDUK contract to wire up Cumbria to superfast broadband
BT has won yet another Broadband Development UK (BDUK) contract to roll out superfast broadband into a rural region in the UK.
The decision by Cumbria County Council was hardly surprising considering that BT was the only provider that was left in the running.
At the moment, only BT and Fujitsu can be used by local councils for their BDUK contracts after they signed a Framework Agreement with the government back in July.
The Cumbrian decision to opt for BT comes after it had rejected both BT’s and Fujitsu’s initial bid in June to roll out superfast broadband in that remote county. The Council at the time would not confirm the reasons for the rejection to TechWeekEurope, citing “legal procurement reasons and the commercial sensitivity of the information.”
However it was reported elsewhere at the time that both bids had failed because BT and Fujitsu failed to satisfy the demands of the council to connect 90 percent of Cumbrian homes and businesses with broadband speeds of 25Mbps by 2015.
In July Fujitsu withdrew from the BDUK bid in Cumbria, leaving BT as the sole bidder left.
TechWeekEurope inquired to the Cumbria County Council about what exactly has changed about BT’s revised bid, received the following response.
“We set out our requirements at the start of the first procurement process, which reflected the funding terms from government and the ambition for Cumbria,” said the council. “BT and Fujitsu at the time did not fulfil the original and full requirements of the tender process and we therefore asked to re-submit their tenders in a second procurement phase. Fujitsu obviously pulled out but BT did fulfil the requirements in the second submission where they hadn’t the first time.”
But the Council once again said it couldn’t go into any details because “it is a commercial tender, subject to ten day call-in and final contract.” What the council could say is that that the funding “will ensure over 93 percent of the county has access to superfast broadband by the end of 2015.”
It also insisted the bid was competitive, despite the fact that only BT was the only provider left in the running. The bid “was compiled following a complex, competitive procurement process,” said the council.
“I am delighted that today we have made a decision that will bring about such significant benefits for our county. Securing a supplier of the calibre of BT will help ensure that the Connecting Cumbria programme delivers significant long term benefits for businesses, communities and the people of Cumbria,” said Cllr Elizabeth Mallinson, Cabinet member with lead for the Connecting Cumbria project.
“This contract will provide essential infrastructure that will help the project deliver Superfast Broadband across rural and urban Cumbria to residents and businesses alike,” said Mallinson. “It is important to say that today’s decision would not have been possible without the hard work and efforts of all of the partners and communities who are involved with this project.”
BDUK will provide £17.1 million, with a further £15.4 million coming from the European Regional Development Fund (subject to confirmation). BT meanwhile is investing £30 million of its own money.
The decision to award the contract to BT will however have to wait until November, before work can begin.
This is because the European Commission is conducting an investigation into BDUK, after concerns were raised the entire BDUK process is not competitive enough, and effectively amounted to “state aid” for BT to rollout superfast broadband in the UK. And matters are not helped by the fact that Fujitsu is believed to be on a government blacklist.
The EC is expected to announce its decision in November.
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