BDUK 'must do better' in rural Cambridgeshire header image

Published: 22nd Jun 2016

The latest complaint about the government and BT's Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) project comes from Cambridgeshire, where a representative of the Country Land & Business Association (CLA) has hit out at the lack of progress in rural areas.

Nicola Currie, the eastern regional director for the organisation, has told Cambridge News she is unhappy with what has been achieved via BDUK so far.

"BDUK must do better. They have failed to meet contracted targets, which is frustrating because the target itself is not ambitious enough in terms of coverage or speed of internet to be provided," she stated.

Ms Currie added that the lack of progress means thousands of rural households and businesses are missing out on the benefits of fast and reliable internet access.

She did praise the fact the government is looking towards the use of alternative broadband services like satellite, but warned it needs to be approached in the right way. 

"BDUK is right to consider alternative technologies such as satellite to deliver access in the most remote rural areas. However, it should not do this through an exclusive contract and taxpayer subsidy to just one provider," Ms Currie stated.

She said the best option, both in terms of cost and fairness, is to emulate the pilot-scheme that was trialled in Wales, where rural residents were given a grant to buy a satellite solution via vouchers. 

This month has seen the CLA give evidence to the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee as part of its ongoing enquiry regarding the BDUK project. 

Its president Henry Robinson also highlighted the lack of improvements in rural areas and questioned the government's decision to make the process for farmers applying for Rural Payments Agency funding online-only from January onwards. Like Ms Currier, Mr Robinson highlighted satellite broadband as a potential solution to the lack of connectivity in the countryside.

The committee has also heard evidence from the National Association of Local Councils, whose president raised similar concerns.