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Campaigners triumph in BT favouritism row

Yorkshire Forward de-BTs grant scheme docs

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Yorkshire Forward has made wholesale changes to a broadband grant scheme that critics claimed was skewed in favour of dominant telco BT.

A leaked document seen by The Register this week was littered with references to "BT" and "exchange" areas, prompting fears that the £300 grants could only be used for the telco's own ADSL registration scheme.

Broadband campaigners were concerned that the grant scheme would not be available to people campaigning for wireless networks or other technology platforms.

Now, though, The Register has seen a revised version of the Regional Development Agency's (RDA) Broadband Campaign Grant Scheme for Yorkshire and Humber.

In the original document, reference to "BT" was made 21 times. In the new document - which is now clearly marked in bold red letters "Consultation Version" - BT is mentioned just twice, while the number of references to "exchanges" has been halved to four.

Erol Ziya, from the lobby group Access to Broadband Campaign is delighted that Yorkshire Forward has made the changes.

"This goes to highlight that there is more to broadband than BT and enabled DSL exchanges.

"Getting BT to enable an exchange so that it can sell it's own limited versions of broadband is not the only, or necessarily the best way, to bring broadband to communities currently without it.

"ABC is happy to have helped Yorkshire Forward in realising these other possibilities and would hope that it is another nail in the coffin of the myth that broadband means BT and only BT."

Campaigners are to keep a close eye on Yorkshire Forward to ensure that the RDA sticks to its assurances that its broadband grant scheme is supplier non-specific. ®

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