Home & Office

Fujitsu plans massive rural fibre-to-the-home network

The company already has Virgin Media and TalkTalk lined up to resell its wholesale connectivity, which could bring symmetrical 1Gbps speeds to five million rural homes
Written by David Meyer, Contributor on

Fujitsu is to build a wholesale fibre broadband network in the UK, with the aim of offering next-generation services to five million rural homes.

The company, which announced its move on Wednesday, will use Cisco's infrastructure kit in its bid to create the UK's second-biggest fibre network. Virgin Media and TalkTalk are already lined up to resell Fujitsu's services to consumers.

Fujitsu fibe broadband UK

Fujitsu's fibre broadband network is "exactly the sort of ambition and innovation the government wanted", according to Ed Vaizey. Photo credit: David Meyer

According to Fujitsu, the "vast majority" of the rural connections will be full fibre-to-the-home (FTTH), which is capable of delivering speeds of up to 1Gbps for both uploads and downloads, with the potential to reach 10Gbps in the future.

"There is a unique opportunity for the UK to re-establish itself as a world leader by having the world's most advanced fibre network," Fujitsu UK chief executive Duncan Tait said in a statement. "If done correctly, this can be a key vehicle to accelerate recovery in the UK and bring genuine choice to generations of communities starved of participating fully in the UK economy."

"We believe our approach, in collaboration with these major industry leaders, will provide a future-proofed network for at least the next 20 to 30 years," Tait added.

Fibre to the home

Fujitsu's wholesale network will be ready for use by retail ISPs towards the end of this year, the company told ZDNet UK, and its connectivity should go live for rural premises in 2012. Fujitsu has not given details of how many premises will be offered FTTH connectivity, as opposed to slower fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) technology. However, its reference to a "vast majority" indicates the opposite approach to that taken by BT.

BT, the only company so far to build out an extensive wholesale fibre network in the UK, has said it will offer up-to-100Mbps FTTH to only 25 percent of the 16 million premises that will be passed by that network by 2015. The rest would get FTTC, which only offers up to 40Mbps.

Fujitsu's fibre rollout will completely avoid the use of BT's street cabinets and will "actively support the involvement of local community broadband groups, enabling dynamic and flexible solutions in rural communities for the first time", the company said. However, 80 percent of the planned rollout will rely on the use of BT's poles and ducts, Fujitsu told ZDNet UK.

On 4 April, Fujitsu joined Virgin Media, TalkTalk and other ISPs in writing to communications minister Ed Vaizey. In their letter, they complained that BT's terms for allowing access to its poles and ducts are unfair and BT is trying to charge too much for public infrastructure access (PIA).

On Wednesday, Fujitsu made clear that its newly-announced fibre plans will not go ahead unless it gets its way on PIA, which is a key part of the government's strategy to open up the super-fast broadband market.

'Substantial UK investment'

Vaizey was extensively quoted in Fujitus's network announcement, saying the plan "was exactly the sort of ambition and innovation the government wanted to stimulate by remove barriers to broadband rollout".

"Fujitsu and their industry partners are pledging a substantial investment in the UK, and it represents a deep commitment to the future success of this country," Vaizey said in the statement. "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."

Get the latest technology news and analysis, blogs and reviews delivered directly to your inbox with ZDNet UK's newsletters.
Editorial standards