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BT wins all rural broadband contracts

Anh Nguyen | April 1, 2014
MPs have heavily criticised the government for failing to promote competition in the procurement of its £1.2 billion rural broadband programme, which has led to an "effectively BT monopoly".

It added: "As for maps, most councils have published coverage maps with our support. More detailed data will be released by them in due course once surveys have been completed and we know for sure that we are going to an area."

The PAC today made a number of recommendations to DCMS.

It said that the department should "work urgently" with all local authorities to publish detailed mapping of their implementation plans, enabling searches down to full, seven-digit postcode level.

"The information should include speed of service, as soon as that is available," it said.

The PAC recognised that DCMS had agreed to review the non-disclosure agreements that prevented local authorities from discussing and comparing BT's costs directly between themselves, but it said that cost transparency could be improved. It suggested that the department should collect, analyse and publish costs data on deployment costs in the current procurement programme, to inform its consideration of bids from suppliers under the next round of funding.

Finally, the PAC reiterated its criticism that the rural broadband programme had been uncompetitive, and said that DCMS should work with local authorities to rectify this. It suggested considering options such as alternative solutions, joint working and fair capital contributions from suppliers.


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