Communications minister defends rural broadband programme header image

The communications minister has defended the government's attempts to bring super-fast broadband to rural areas after they were criticised by a Public Accounts Committee (PAC) enquiry. 

Earlier this week (September 26th), the PAC claimed the coalition's programme to bring high-speed internet to 90 per cent of the UK has not provided the taxpayer with value for money and allowed BT to establish a detrimental monopoly. 

However, Ed Vaizey has hit back at these claims. Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, he denied the costs of the project are "out of control" and defended BT's involvement. 

"BT is delivering under our scheme to up to 10,000 homes now; it will deliver to millions of people over the next two years with the best value-for-money, government-sponsored broadband scheme you will pretty much find anywhere in the world," the minister commented. 

Mr Vaizey claimed only BT and Virgin had the necessary infrastructure to carry out the project, but the latter was unwilling to open up its cable network for other companies to use. 

Regardless of whether the government's rural broadband scheme is considered a success or not, the project is expected to miss its deadline of bringing super-fast broadband to 90 per cent of the country by 2015.

This goal is now not expected to be achieved until 2017 and even then the remaining ten per cent of areas will only be guaranteed minimum connection speeds of two Mbps, which is well below the level required for a broadband service to be super-fast.

As a result, there is still a significant number of people who will have to wait for around four years for high-speed internet access, or may miss out completely.

A viable alternative for such individuals is satellite broadband. This technology has developed considerably in recent years and is now capable of providing speeds of up to 20 Mbps, which is above the UK average and significantly faster than typical broadband connections. 

What's more, it is available immediately from Avonline.