Feeds

Broadband minister admits rural rollout by 2015 is 'challenging target'

Could £530m BDUK project hit the skids?

Business security measures using SSL

Broadband minister Ed Vaizey has confessed that the government's £530m pledge to deploy a faster fibre network to rural areas by 2015 is "a challenging target".

Speaking with MPs on the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee, Vaizey said that his department was "running as fast as we can" to deliver on time. However, he also said that it would be impossible to bring the project forward early.

He added that, while the Department for Culture, Media and Sport remained determined to hit its deadline - which coincides with the end of the current Parliament - waiting for state aid clearance from Brussels had been a "factor in the delay" to getting physical work properly underway.

Vaizey claimed that competition officials in Europe who probed the allocation of Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) funds "kept resetting the clock", which the minister described as "frustrating".

That's markedly different to what your correspondent has heard. A source told The Register that it was the UK government and not the commission that dragged its heels over providing documents to help competition wonks assess the BDUK project.

This was borne out by the competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia earlier this week, who told the Financial Times:

Politicians on both sides of the Channel must avoid red tape, but the real origin of the delays ... should also be made clear. We asked the UK government last February to supply the necessary information to us and only received a complete answer in October.

As it stands, BT is the only preferred bidder to have secured any cash from the government to roll out its fibre network in various parts of the country where the national telco had previously not seen a business case for investing its own money into such projects.

When quizzed about BT's overarching dominance in the race for the BDUK pot, the minister said: "In theory there are two companies involved."

Indeed, Fujitsu is the other preferred bidder - the only trouble is that it is yet to bag any contracts with local authorities. Whitehall has also chided the Japanese tech giant for its failure to deliver on previous IT projects. But the company has denied that it is on any government blacklist.

That said, as Vaizey made clear, one can only theorise about Fujitsu at this stage.

A further £300m is being set aside from the BBC licence fee which won't be dished out until after the next General Election. When asked by MPs what that pile of cash would be used for, Vaizey said "we've not taken a decision about that at the moment".

One politico wondered if those funds would be needed if the BDUK project was to hit delays ... ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Brit telcos warn Scots that voting Yes could lead to HEFTY bills
BT and Co: Independence vote likely to mean 'increased costs'
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Blockbuster book lays out the first 20 years of the Smartphone Wars
Symbian's David Wood bares all. Not for the faint hearted
Bonking with Apple has POUNDED mobe operators' wallets
... into submission. Weve squeals, ditches payment plans
This flashlight app requires: Your contacts list, identity, access to your camera...
Who us, dodgy? Vast majority of mobile apps fail privacy test
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.