Feeds

Ministry of Fun builds crack team to juice up bumpkin broadband

BDUK consultants, Whitehall mandarins sent to the sticks

Boost IT visibility and business value

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has assembled a crack team of Whitehall and BT bods to speed up the deployment of broadband to rural areas.

A pilot scheme will be be tested on bumpkins* in Norfolk after the county chose BT as its preferred bidder for a £41m contract to bring faster net connections to the region.

The Ministry of Fun said that the rollout process would be scrutinised by the team and will focus on planning, highways and power issues. Maria Miller - the department's Secretary of State - has already said that she wanted to cut through red tape to accelerate the deployment of speedier broadband connections throughout Blighty by 2015.

However, the DCMS has seen procurements for the provision of superfast broadband get off to a sluggish start. It spent much of last year wrangling with the European Commission over permission to use public money, effectively state aid, to fund the installations.

The process was slowed by competition concerns raised by the EU after it emerged that national telco BT has been the only company to bag any funds to date from the £530m pot of taxpayers' cash set aside for rural areas. This lump of dosh, called Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), caught the attention of Brussels officials, who questioned whether the procurement process was fair for the telecoms giant's rivals.

The state aid was finally cleared late last year with some conditions attached that included a number of "best practices" that would lead to "more effective, better targeted and less distortive public interventions". One of those requirements laid out by the Commission was for a "national competence centre". It said at the time:

The Commission encourages nationwide broadband support schemes to ensure consistency between small projects and to avoid delays in the implementation through reduced administrative burden for local authorities.

The plan is to setup such support schemes for all the local authorities that were awarded the BDUK funds.

Communications minister Ed Vaizey claimed: "Norfolk is on track to double access to superfast broadband for homes and businesses, and by having these discussions now, we can help ensure that the people of Norfolk will receive all the benefits that superfast broadband has to offer at the very earliest opportunity."

BT agreed the scheme would help speed up the deployment of its broadband network in the countryside.

Vaizey told MPs this week how local councils were progressing with their BDUK projects. He said:

I can confirm that nine projects have signed contracts, 15 are in procurement and the remainders are in preparation to begin procurement. Broadband Delivery UK is working closely with the local project teams to support their progress and contract signature at the earliest opportunity.

However, while planning such projects accurately is an important issue, at least one council is continuing to tussle with BT over contract concerns.

Presumably, the scheme will lead to BDUK's 70 consultants (worth £9.8m) and Whitehall mandarins strolling around the countryside in their wellies with clipboards iPads in hand. ®

* You've written in to protest over the term, so natch we had to have another go. You're welcome.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Déjà vu: Virgin Media jacks up broadband prices
Screw copper phone lines, we're UNIQUE, bleats telco
UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones
Met Police calls for mandatory passwords on all new mobes
Netflix swallows yet another bitter pill, inks peering deal with TWC
Net neutrality crusader once again pays up for priority access
New Sprint CEO says he will lower axe on staff – but prices come first
'Very disruptive' new rates to be revealed next week
EE: STILL Blighty's best mobe network, says 'Frappucino' Moore
Fresh round of network stats fisticuffs possibly on the cards here
US TV stations bowl sueball directly at FCC's spectrum mega-sale
Broadcasters upset about coverage and cost as they shift up and down the dials
What's the nature of your emergency, Vodafone?
Oh, you've dialled the wrong number for ad fibs, rules ASA
EE network whacked by 'PDP authentication failure' blunder
Carrier is 'aware' of cockup, working on a fix NOW
ROAD TRIP! An FCC road trip – Leahy demands net neutrality debate across US
You crashed watchdog's site, now time to crash its ears
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
BYOD's dark side: Data protection
An endpoint data protection solution that adds value to the user and the organization so it can protect itself from data loss as well as leverage corporate data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
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?