MPs slam bumpkin fibre rollout, demand halt to further £250m cash spaff
And an end to BT's 'quasi-monopoly'
BT chides MPs for failing to 'correct error-ridden' report
BT said it was "disturbed" by the MPs' report, claimed it was "simply wrong" and that the committee had failed to "take on board a point-by-point correction" that the company recently submitted to the PAC. It added:
We have been transparent from the start and willing to invest when others have not. It is therefore mystifying that we are being criticised for accepting onerous terms in exchange for public subsidy - terms which drove others away.
The taxpayer is undoubtedly getting value for money. BT faces a payback period of around 15 years on its rural broadband investments in spite of the subsidies available.
The one-time national telco also claimed that the DCMS had kept public spending tightly under control.
It added that it was not preventing local authorities from publishing information about which areas it would not reach under BT's current rural fibre broadband plan.
"The information in question is owned by local councils and BT is not standing in the way of publication. Northamptonshire has already published and we understand more councils will be doing so," it said.
Miller's department also admonished the MPs' report and claimed that it had safeguarded taxpayers' money by - for example - including clawback clauses in its contracts.
It also pointed out nine suppliers had pre-qualified for the BDUK framework, three submitted final bids and two were appointed to compete for the funds.
The DCMS claimed that "competitive tension" had been maintained throughout the procurement process. It blamed BT's rivals for withdrawing their bids, saying that they had primarily done so not because of competition concerns, but for commercial reasons, or due to lack of technical or resource capacity.
We put in place a fair commercial process and encouraged different suppliers to bid. We are disappointed that the PAC fails to recognise that thousands of rural premises who have never had a decent broadband supply are now getting one, something that is vital for farmers, rural businesses and all those who live outside major cities.
It seems unlikely then, based on such a caustic response from central government and BT, that the DCMS will accept the committee's recommendations. ®
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