Surprise! BT pockets £70m North Yorkshire broadband rollout
To win one-horse race in Cumbria also
Updated BT has been awarded a £70m contract from North Yorkshire county council to improve broadband service in the area, and will win a similar contract for Cumbria by default.
Japanese tech giant Fujitsu, the only competition faced by BT for the work, withdrew from the contest in Cumbria but remained in the running for the North Yorkshire deal.
It was clear at that point that the national telco would, by default, secure the Cumbrian BDUK funds from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Having won the competition in Yorkshire, BT will secure that cash as well.
BT - which has apparently spent £23m on the North Yorkshire county already - will plonk £10m on the project, which gets a £17.8m cash injection from the government and a further £8.6m from the European Regional Development Fund.
Just the two of us, we can make it in the end...
Here's a canned statement from broadband minister Ed Vaizey, who apparently had no concerns about the rather weak competition for the BDUK funds - despite the European Commission's concerns about the allocation of state aid in Blighty:
I'm delighted that North Yorkshire has unlocked further funding and is ready to start rolling out fibre broadband. It's an ambitious project which will bring huge benefits to homes and businesses across the county.
Around 365,000 homes and businesses in North Yorkshire are expected to gain access to broadband speeds of up to 80Mbps by the end of 2014, with an unspecified number of areas in the country getting extremely fast downstream connections of up to 330Mbit/s via BT's fibre-to-the-premises technology. ®
Updated to Add
An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Fujitsu had withdrawn from the North Yorkshire BDUK competition as well as the Cumbrian one.
Ordinarily I'd agree. However, BT are contemptible cretins who will do as little as possible as cheaply as possible.
Meanwhile, in a relatively central area in the south, a village where I live, I average about 1.6Mbit/s, 2 if I'm lucky, with a terrible upload speed.
How about we work on getting everyone up to a decent standard of say 10Mbit symmetrical, instead of working on giving a handful of people 80Mbit for a high price.
Not to mention...
That BT have used anticompetitive practices(*) to scupper contracts issued to alternative providers, resulting in the allocated EU money being pocketed by councils and the feckless companies who originally got the contracts being substantially out of pocket for the work they'd already put in.
They did this in Ewhurst (Surrey) and then took their own sweet time actually installing anything, so that the villagers finally got FTTC (in some parts only) about 2 years later than they would have if the original contract had been seen to completion - and they still don't have the 100% coverage they would have had.
(*) BT originally stated they had no interest in providing FTTC to the area. Then as soon as EU funding had been secured and broadband rollouts announced for various rural areas in Surrey, they announced that there was enough demand after all. This resulted in the contracts being cancelled and EU grants being withheld. Previously BT had simply waited until several Surrey companies had rolled out wireless broadband, then put in ADSL services in the same area at substantially lower cost - the wireless companies went bust as a result.