28 December 2013
There is disappointment and anger that Oxfordshire and Dorset County Councils have signed contracts with BT to provide broadband services to rural areas, so denying alternative schemes which may have offered better value for money.
Mark Chivers, Chairman of South East Dorset Green Party said, "What a shame a Dorset scheme which aimed to run fibre networks along disused rail tracks was not adopted. This could have been a wonderful opportunity for small internet service providers to set the agenda. Most rural broadband providers want to provide quicker, better and cheaper fibre-to-the-home services (FTTH) rather than BT's fibre-to-the -cabinet services (FTTC), which is reliant on old-fashioned copper connections. Small local operators can be hugely less dependent on state aid although of course they do have to meet the conditions to receive public funds."
BDUK, the group set up by government to oversee rural broadband rollouts, has been widely criticised for how it has handled the process.
A recent report from the Commons Public Accounts Committee said that the government needed to spend funds set aside to get superfast broadband to the last 10% of the UK more wisely. Broadband groups were encouraged to bid for a separate pot of money, the Rural Broadband Community Fund, as part of the process to get broadband to the harder-to-reach parts of the UK.