NAO and MPs criticise rural broadband project

MPs and the National Audit Office (NAO) have criticised the government for ‘mismanaging’ the roll-out of broadband internet services to rural areas.

In a recent report the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said the programme gave BT, which holds 26 contracts, a “quasi monopolistic position”.

In addition, the project is running almost two years behind schedule. Its progress was not helped by taking six months longer than expected to get EU State Aid approval.

The government revised its target and now aims to deliver the rural broadband programme by 2017.

Chairman of the PAC Margaret Hodge said...

Continued...

» Register now

The full article is available to registered AccountingWEB members only. To read the rest of this article you’ll need to login or register.

Registration is FREE and allows you to view all content, ask questions, comment and much more.

Comments

Slow, Slower, stop    2 thanks

Ian McTernan CTA | | Permalink

As one of those potentially in line to benefit from the roll out to rural areas, I have taken a keen interest in this topic and have seen the massive amount of bureaucracy involved in deciding first who to award the contract to (what a laugh, the terms and conditions basically exclude anyone except BT from qualifying- blame the EU rules for that) and secondly on deciding who exactly will benefit from the funding on a village by village basis, as it is not guaranteed that we will actually get it at all.

Current estimated start date is '2015'.  That's when they will decide who will get it, and commence a project of works that might mean another two years before we 'might' finally get it (or not).

We have an internet services company based here, they currently use 4 or more lines bundled together to get 4Mb.

My internet runs at just over 1Mb when it's working- dropped and had to restart modem 4 times yesterday.

I gave up on waiting and will have satellite internet installed in the next couple of weeks, which is very expensive, has a latency of 800ms but will at least allow me to offer cloud solutions to those that want them and to be able to download and upload files in a reasonable timescale.

The other alternative would have been for everyone to band together and have some form of microwave dishes installed together with installing a mast somewhere high up (planning permission issues) at a cost of £10k+ for set up, £300 or so per property installion and then £40 a month for 8 or 12Mb.

What started off as a good idea (rural broadband) has been swallowed up by the paperwork and rule mountains so that it now runs much as 64k modems used to- dead slow and losing the route.

They need to double the funding so that the Government pays for all the infrastructure upfront costs and get it done, and then hand it all over to BT who can run it for 5 years after which tenders can be placed to take over portions of it by all bidders.  If it requires subsidies to continue then so be it- but it really shouldn't if managed well.

Urban broadband

gsgordon | | Permalink

I can't even get a decent speed (> 2 Mbps!) from BT in Edinburgh. The roll-out of fast broadband via FTTC in our area has just been slipped from end Sept 2013 to end of March 2014.

Have they been focussing too much on rural broadband (ha ha!)?