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'Leaked' doc shock: BT denies inflating prices for rural broadband rollout

DCMS won't comment on alleged dismissal of BDUK doc's author

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The government has declined to comment on the alleged leaking of a Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) document that reportedly suggests BT has been inflating prices for the deployment of its fibre network to rural areas, which needs taxpayer-derived funds.

It has also been claimed that the author of the apparently damning document - which has been discussed at length around the blogosphere for some weeks now - was sacked by officials at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, which is headed up by Cabinet minister Maria Miller.

The Register tried to wrangle details about the alleged dismissal of Mike Kiely from the DCMS, which failed to deny the rumour first reported by Br0kenTeleph0n3's blogger, Ian Grant.

A Whitehall spokesman told us: "We do not comment on individual staffing matters."

The Daily Telegraph reported on Tuesday that it too had seen the supposed leaked BDUK document, meant only for internal discussions, which appeared to show that there were major concerns about BT unfavourably bumping up its charges to see government subsidies and levies from council tax bills balloon.

A cash stash of £1bn has been committed by the Tory-led Coalition to help BT deploy its fibre network to around 12 million homes and businesses in rural parts of the UK. However, the document reportedly attacks BT for using "pseudo wholesale" numbers to plump up the national telco's costs. A point denied by BT, which has gone on record to say:

BT is winning competitive BDUK tenders precisely because it is committing extra funds to improve broadband access. These funds are in addition to our commercial investment of £2.5bn and so it is ludicrous to suggest that we are trying to pass on the full cost of deployment to our public sector partners.

The DCMS, meanwhile, has insisted - despite the damaging reports that are piling up about BT - that it remains "committed to achieving value for money for all government spending," but has declined to comment on "allegedly leaked documents".

It's been reported by the Telegraph that Public Accounts Committee chair Patricia Hodge has waded into the now very much out-in-the-open confab about BT's pricing methods as they relate to BDUK funding.

She has also urged the National Audit Office to investigate the claims.

Elsewhere, in the not-so-great egg 'n' spoon race for government funding, Fujitsu - which was the only other preferred bidder initially approved by the DCMS - has been effectively frozen out of chasing public sector contracts due to a piss-poor track record.

It's a move that only leaves BT at the table just as the clock is ticking for a response from Brussels on state aid investment that has been withheld while the European Commission probes competition concerns about the broadband market in Blighty. A decision is said to be imminent. ®

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