Fujitsu is collaborating with Virgin Media, TalkTalk and Cisco to roll out a broadband network that will connect five million "digitally disenfranchised" homes in particularly hard-to-reach areas.
Deployment is being managed across the underground ducts and poles owned by BT, in a strategy made possible after Ofcom forced BT Openreach to open up its infrastructure to other companies on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms.
Today, residents in Greasby, on the Wirral Peninsula, started a six-month trial of receiving next generation services from Virgin Media or TalkTalk, delivered using Fujitsu's fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) network.
Virgin Media trialists will initially receive 100Mbps broadband, as well as the company's converged TV service powered by TiVo. TalkTalk volunteers will get 100Mbps broadband.
The trial will enable Fujitsu to assess the commercial and practical realities of using BT's infrastructure in a live environment, as well as allow Virgin Media and TalkTalk to test the validity of offering premium services over a third-party network.
Jon James, the executive director of broadband at Virgin Media, said: "Just two miles away [from the trial area] is a road recently identified as having one of the slowest broadband connections in the whole country.
"We want to change that and make superfast broadband something that can be accessed by everyone. This is an exciting opportunity to work in Greasby with some of the world's leading technology companies to test a network capable of the speeds we can deliver in towns and cities on our own cable network, helping bridge the digital divide between urban and rural areas and reinvigorating our international competitiveness."
Any full rollout of Fujitsu's FTTH network is dependent on the firm securing favourable pricing from BT for using its infrastructure. It is also reliant on the company securing a slice of the government's £363m funding pot for bringing broadband to rural areas.