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SURPRISE! BT bags more gov broadband cash - this time in Bucks & Herts

As usual, deployment won't be finished until 2016

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BT continues to be the only telco winning any government cash to deploy its fibre network to the British countryside, after it confirmed today that it had won an £18m contract in Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire.

Meanwhile, the narrative about this particular win followed previous deals signed by BT in the past few months, since it officially became the only telecoms company to be bidding for the £530m Broadband Delivery UK money set aside by the government.

Once again, BT won't complete the work until 2016 - a whole year after the Department for Culture, Media and Sport's target of bringing internet download speeds of at least 2Mbit/s to Brits across the land.

BT said that more than 90 per cent of premises in the two counties would gain access to its fibre broadband network via streetside cabinets - meaning that the company will deploy the cabling using existing copper wiring into the properties (AKA Fibre-to-the-Cabinet tech).

It will be fed to more than 50,000 homes and businesses in Bucks and Herts. BT said it was committed to ensuring that everyone in the counties got access to minimum download broadband speeds of 2Mbps - as desired by Whitehall.

BT has slapped £8.6m on the project, the councils have coughed up £5.3m and the rest of the money - £4.15m - has been slurped from the BDUK pot.

Communications minister Ed Vaizey declared last year that the DCMS was "challenged" by its 2015 target. Since then, he has greatly softened his rhetoric to reflect the reality that the government will not meet its self-imposed 2015 deadline. It is no longer saying that Blighty will have the "best" superfast broadband network in Europe by then. Nor is it even trying to compete with "major" EU neighbours such as France and Germany any more.

The Ministry of Fun's official line today, direct from the lips of Vaizey, continues to simply say that the government is "transforming the nation's broadband".

It emerged last week, meanwhile, that an incoming National Audit Office report on the status of the BDUK programme has labelled the project a "train crash waiting to happen".

The spending watchdog is said to have run up the red flag on the DCMS, citing competition and transparency concerns about the entire process, after Fujitsu quit chasing the government’s promised funds earlier this year. ®

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