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Thursday, 23 October 2014

Cumbria Broadband delayed again as BT and Fujitsu bids rejected

 

The project to roll-out superfast broadband across Cumbria was today hit with yet another delay when county councillors rejected tenders from BT and Fujitsu for the £40 million contract.

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

The massive 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 to the council with a better solution for Cumbria.

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 Cllr 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.”

She added: “The Connecting Cumbria programme is a very complex initiative and one that we need to get right if we are to meet the needs and expectations of Cumbria’s communities and businesses.”

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

 

Statement from the county council reads: 

Today, Cumbria County Council’s Cabinet have decided to enter into a new phase of procurement on Connecting Cumbria. This new phase will see formal negotiations continue with the final two bidders on the Connecting Cumbria Programme to help improve their overall offer for Cumbria. Cabinet now intends to make a final decision in September.

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

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 and satisfies the terms and conditions of all funding bodies including central government and EU requirements.

Commenting on the decision Cllr 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.

“By taking part in the national pilot this programme has presented us with the opportunity to have a voice at a national level helping to expose issues for rural counties which require action at government level. Challenges that go beyond the boundaries of our county including those relating to market failure, a heavily regulated market and the navigation of European ‘State Aid’ regulations.

The Connecting Cumbria programme is a very complex initiative and one that we need to get right if we are to meet the needs and expectations of Cumbria’s communities and businesses.”

Following today’s decision the Connecting Cumbria Programme Team will start new negotiation immediately with the final two suppliers to establish new and refreshed submissions.

More follows
 

Have your say

It is more concerning that cumbria's main Business Parks are being ignored in the proposed upgrade. How are SME's expected to grow? There are a number of options available, but it requires education about what is available.

Posted by Mark Connor Pc North - Cumbria Local B2B Internet provider on 25 June 2012 at 13:02

Cumbria is held up to the rest of the Country as being advanced in BDUK terms of procurement. In Tavistock we are not in any funding or expectation but if the same happens with Connecting Devon & Somerset, it will just show what a farce this funding actually is.

Posted by Tavistock Superfast Broadband on 15 June 2012 at 23:02

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