Govt rural broadband scheme 'behind schedule' header image

The government's flagship programme to make superfast broadband widely available is two years behind schedule. 

A damning report by the National Audit Office (NAO) has found only nine out of 44 local projects are going to meet the initial target of providing superfast coverage to 90 per cent of households by May 2015.

One of the main reasons for the delay is it took six months longer than expected to gain approval for the project under EU State aid rules. As a result of the delay, the government has been forced to revise its delivery target to December 2016.

Amyas Morse, head of the NAO, stated the projects is "moving forward late and without the benefit of strong competition to protect public value". He added it will be up to the Department for Culture Media and Sport to make sure Ofcom uses the strong supervisory powers it has so the scheme delivers.

The programme has been designed with three separate safeguards, which are meant to ensure value for money is offered. These are the promotion of competition through a procurement framework; contract controls to limit cost and profit levels and the provision of assurance that bids made by suppliers are appropriate.

Funding for the project has also had to be altered. BT is only providing 23 per cent of the £1.5 billion total, which is £207 million less than initially agreed. As well as this, BT is set to benefit from £1.2 billion of public money by the end of the programme.

Of course, people living in rural areas do not have to wait until 2016 to access a superfast internet connection. By installing satellite broadband, households can expect to receive download speeds of up to 20 Mbps.

This type of web connection is available throughout the UK and all individuals have to do is install a small dish outside their house and connect the device to a modem with a single wire.

Posted by Mark Wynn