UK superfast broadband plans “in chaos”
September 26, 2013
By Chris Forrester
A UK parliamentary report says the country’s plans for the roll-out of superfast broadband to rural and country areas are in chaos. The report, from Parliament’s influential Public Accounts Committee (PAC), reserved most of its criticism for BT but also accused the UK government of “mismanagement” in awarding BT near-monopoly status in the handling of broadband deployment.
The PAC also fired its guns at the current coalition government’s Department of Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) stating that the DCMS permitted BT to benefit excessively from the award of £1.2 billions-worth (€1.4bn) of public contracts, and yet BT would not divulge its costs to civil servants in order to monitor value for money expenditure.
As a result the PAC has called for the DCMS to suspend or cancel a planned £250 million further payment to BT until ministers and civil servants can introduce a structure which guaranteed that BT’s bids are fair to the public and reasonably priced.
BT, in its defence, said the report was simply wrong and failed to take on board the company’s detailed submissions to the PAC. “We have been transparent from the start and willing to invest when others have not,” a BT spokeswoman sgtated. “It is therefore mystifying that we are being criticised for accepting onerous terms in exchange for public subsidy – terms which drove others away. The taxpayer is undoubtedly getting value for money,” she said.