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BT Defends Superfast Broadband Roll Out
3:54pm 1st April 2014
The roll-out of superfast broadband in rural areas like Cornwall is under fire.
BT has won all 44 contracts across the UK including in the Duchy.
Now a powerful committee of MPs claims there is a lack of information about coverage and speed and not enough competition.
Chair Margaret Hodge said: "Think about the farmer who wants to get his European subsidies, who is told by DEFRA that the only way in which he can get those is by applying online and then he finds he has a really slow broadband connection.
"People in rural communities can't make alternative provisions which they're anxious to do to ensure they access that broadband and for the very isolated communities, like farmers, it's an absolute must."
A BT spokesman said: "BDUK is a successful programme that is delivering tangible benefits to communities across the UK. It is therefore frustrating that the committee continues to try and pick holes in the programme rather than recognise the wider value and benefits it is delivering.
"We respect the role of the committee but we feel their criticism of BT is inaccurate and unjustified. BT was the only company willing to accept the challenging terms on offer and make a significant investment in rural areas. This was at a time when others walked away when they realised easy pickings weren't to be had. Claims that BT is a 'monopoly' are simply inaccurate given more than 100 internet service providers (ISPs) are offering fibre broadband across BT's open network.
"BT is delivering value for money and the National Audit Office acknowledged there are 'robust' processes in place to ensure that. DCMS and BDUK have full sight of BT's costs so there is a very high level of transparency. Our solution was also cheaper and better than the bids submitted by our competitors - before they walked away - and those terms still apply. It is also the case we do not get paid until we have submitted detailed invoices showing the costs we have incurred.
"As for maps, most councils have published coverage maps with our support. More detailed data will be released by them in due course once surveys have been completed and we know for sure that we are going to an area."
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