BT have been left in a monopoly position over the rollout of rural broadband across the country that has been part funded by £1.2 billion of public funds according to a report by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
The Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) scheme was set up by the government to help fund the rollout of fibre optic broadband to rural areas where it was not financially viable for BT, Virgin Media or other providers to roll out to with just their own money. The £1.2 billion BDUK pot of money to help with the roll out to these rural areas has in effect just been sent in the direction of BT as they are the only provider to have won any contracts.
The report by PAC initially raised concerns over the way the contracts were being awarded back in 2013, at this point 26 contracts for BDUK schemes had been awarded to BT, since then the other 18 contracts that have been put out to tender have also gone in the direction of BT too. Initially there were nine suppliers who were looking to bid for the BDUK funds but most of these dropped out and left the only real remaining one as Fujitsu, however they themselves had pretty much given up too which left BT to clear up all the contracts.
Another issue is the secrecy surrounding the contracts, BT stipulated that there was non-discloser agreements in place so councils could not talk to each other to see if they were receiving a good deal or not, this then makes it likely that more tax payers money will have gone to BT than perhaps needed to if there had been more openness surrounding existing contracts in place.
The other issue raised by PAC was that the broadband maps lacked detail which made it hard for other organisations to see where exactly BT would be rolling their fibre network out to and this hindered other schemes coming in to potentially fill in the gaps or offer faster speeds. They have said that the government needs to work with local organisations to make these broadband maps able to be searched down to post codes to help make it clearer where exactly will and won’t be covered.