Government funding for rural broadband 'horrendously complex' header image

Published: 22nd Jun 2016

The government's scheme to improve broadband connections in the UK has been criticised by two rural organisations. 

Around £530 million of finance has been invested into the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) project, which aims to bring super-fast internet to 90 per cent of the country, while the remaining areas will be guaranteed speeds of at least 2 Mbps.

However, BT has won every contract awarded through the project to date and following the withdrawal of Fujitsu, it is now the only internet service provider able to bid for funding. 

This has raised concerns about a lack of competition hindering the rollout of super-fast broadband, as BT already owns a third of the market. 

Charles Trotman, head of rural business development at the Country Land and Business Association (CLA), told Farmers Weekly that smaller community projects have pulled out of the BDUK scheme because they do not understand the process.

"The funding process has been horrendously complex," he stated.

Mr Trotman said communities simply do not have the finances to challenge for funding and the work is supposed to be completed by 2015, which is a target he believes even BT will not be able to meet.

He claimed the CLA agrees with the principle of investing in rural broadband, but not with the mechanism used to deliver it, as it "could have been a lot easier". 

The BDUK project has also been criticised by the Countryside Alliance, with Sarah Lee, head of policy at the organisation, saying the roll-out has been "pretty poor" so far.

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Posted by Mark Wynn