Smaller broadband suppliers can compete with industry giants, says govt header image

Published: 5th Feb 2016

Smaller broadband suppliers have the potential to compete against "industry giants" like Virgin Media and BT Openreach, according to a new government report.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport published its findings following a series of pilot schemes that explored options for delivering superfast broadband to some of the hardest-to-reach parts of the UK.

Among the seven projects, which have now been running for over a year, were two initiatives using satellite broadband to serve some of the country's most remote and sparsely populated locations.

Some of the key findings showed that smaller suppliers can bid for, win and deliver open public procurement jobs at competitive costs.

The pilot schemes also showed that these providers can successfully mix technologies to provide cost-effective superfast broadband and can collaborate with communities to create viable commercial conditions for small projects.

Following the success of these tests, smaller broadband companies have grown in confidence to bid for contracts in the government's rollout of superfast internet access, which is aiming for 95 per cent UK coverage by 2017.

Five independent suppliers have already won contracts as the programme moves into its second phase, having covered four million additional homes and businesses so far.

Ed Vaizey, the digital economy minister, said: "The government's rollout of superfast broadband is the fastest of its kind anywhere in the world and is a truly massive engineering project.

"Our pilot scheme has demonstrated that alternative technologies can help us take superfast speeds to the hardest-to-reach areas of the UK and I'm very pleased that smaller suppliers are now competing for, and winning, contracts for the next phase of the rollout."

There have recently been calls for BT to be separated from Openreach, its broadband infrastructure division, in order to reduce the company's "natural monopoly" and open up the market to competitors.