Rural areas 'may not benefit from BDUK' header image

Published: 19th Jun 2013

The benefits of the government's Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme may not be felt in rural areas.

This is according to the website ISPreview, which has questioned the impact the project will have on countryside communities. 

BDUK aims to bring super-fast broadband to 90 per cent of UK households, while the remaining ten per cent will be guaranteed a minimum connection speed of two Mbps. 

However, ISPreview claimed that "contrary to a lot of the political spin" much of the work carried out through the project will be in urban areas and a significant amount of rural locations could fall into the final ten per cent.

The site said it is currently unclear which parts of the UK will not benefit from the BDUK programme due to the government and BT - the only internet service provider (ISP) authorised by the scheme - choosing to protect the information. 

According to broadband blog Br0kenTeleph0n3, the Independent Networks Cooperative Association (INCA) used the Freedom of Information Act to request details of the project from several local councils, but all have been rejected.

ISPreview suggested this may have a detrimental effect on competition in the broadband industry, as the chances of ISPs choosing to invest in improving services in the final ten per cent are slim if they do not know where these areas are located.

Malcolm Corbett, INCA chief executive, told Br0kenTeleph0n3: "Effectively it means that the locations that BT is being paid by the taxpayer to deliver to, along with those that are out of scope,are confidential."

He added that he "can't see why" any ISP would be willing to invest in rural broadband under these circumstances. 

The issue of improving internet access in rural areas is important as a number of studies have found that connection speeds in the countryside are well below those in large towns and cities.

Earlier this year, Ofcom revealed that the average download speed in rural households is 5.1 Mbps, compared to 13.9 Mbps in urban areas.

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Posted by Craig Roberts