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Fujitsu announces £1.5 billion broadband fibre rollout plans

New rival to BT Openreach programme

Fujitsu has announced plans to build a new superfast fibre optic broadband network, in collaboration with Virgin Media, TalkTalk and Cisco.

Fujitsu will be investing £1.5 billion in the programme, and also hopes to access some of the £500 million fund that the government has earmarked for broadband rollout.

It will be the second big player in the superfast broadband market, which has been driven mainly by BT Openreach so far. The new network is expected to connect at least five million households.

The network will be based on Cisco technology, while internet service providers Virgin Media and TalkTalk will sell wholesale products via the network to retail customers in remote areas of the UK. Other ISPs will also be able to access the network on a wholesale basis.

Most areas will be connected by fibre optic cabling to the home (FTTH) rather than to a local street cabinet, providing a bandwidth of one gigabit, up to more than 10Gbps. The network will be deployed across underground (ducts) and overhead (telegraph poles) infrastructure.

The partnership is also encouraging local community broadband groups to get involved in the rollout, which superfast broadband campaigners INCA (Independent Networks Cooperative Association) welcomed.

"It's very good we have got another large-scale player in the frame," said Malcolm Corbett, CEO of INCA.

"We will be very keen to provide help where we can."

Communication minister Ed Vaizey said: "Creating this superfast broadband network will help improve the economic and social prospects of the homes and businesses where high-speed internet access remains just a dream."

The government wants the whole of the UK to have access to superfast broadband by 2015.

In the Budget earlier this year, Chancellor George Osborne announced the government's plans to establish 21 urban 'Enterprise Zones' in the UK, with businesses in every zone having access to superfast broadband.

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