BT and government criticised over broadband rollout header image

BT and the government have been criticised for the way they have handled the rollout of super-fast broadband in the UK. 

The telecommunications firm is the only company that has been allowed to participate in the coalition's Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) project, which provides state funding for the improvement of internet access across the country and particularly in rural areas.

Fujitsu was the only other organisation cleared to take part in the scheme, but withdrew earlier this year, meaning BT has been awarded every single BDUK contract to date. 

Nicholas James, chief executive of internet service provider Broadband UK, has claimed the project was set up in a way that would favour BT over other companies. 

"There was no way we could join in the process because of the way the process was funded," he stated. 

Mr James was speaking in front of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), in an attempt to discover whether the BDUK project has stifled competition in the broadband sector. Also present at the meeting was TalkTalk chief executive Dido Harding who has been a vocal critic of BT in recent months.

Earlier this year, she accused the company of establishing a monopoly that is detrimental to both consumers and businesses. TalkTalk made an official complaint to telecoms watchdog Ofcom regarding this issue and the organisation pledged to launch a full investigation.

The PAC meeting was called following a report from the National Audit Office, which claimed the BDUK project is around two years behind schedule and lacking in competition. 

Super-fast broadband was meant to be rolled out to 90 per cent of the UK by 2015 under the original aims of the scheme, but it is now believed many areas will not get an upgraded service until 2017. The final ten per cent of areas stand to receive a minimum connection speed of two Mbps.

However, waiting for the BDUK scheme to be completed is not the only way to receive a fast and reliable online service. Satellite broadband is available immediately and can provide speeds of up to 20 Mbps.

Posted by Mark Wynn