UK operators to discuss government rural broadband project

07 October 2013 | Kavit Majithia

Leading telecoms groups in the UK will be required to provide greater competition and innovation in the next phase of the ruling coalition’s rural broadband project.

Operators and fixed-line providers will come together today for the first time at a meeting convened by the UK’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), and will be invited to provide superfast broadband access across the country by 2018.

A budget of £250 million has been set aside to provide coverage, and the BDUK project aims to cover 90% of the country by 2015.

The government has come under fire, however, after operators criticised the project for being flawed. BT is reportedly the only likely winner of £530 million worth of subsidies on offer, because of the way the project was set up.

A recent report by MPs slammed the roll-out of broadband in rural areas for being mismanaged, and claimed that BT is exploiting the situation.

According to the report, consumers were also failing to see the benefits of healthy competition as a result.

According to the Financial Times, the DCMS is seeking to find different ways to deliver superfast broadband in UK areas that are harder to reach, while giving communities the opportunity to get more involved with the plans.

Companies including EE, Vodafone and Three will attend the meeting to establish how to extend coverage, by using more innovative fixed and mobile technology.

Access to fibre networks owned by BT could also prove to be a problem, according to one source close to the Financial Times, largely because BDUK’s proposals did not include the use of mobile technology.