Broadband rollout set for a revamp

The government is planning to revamp the roll-out in rural areas of broadband delivery UK (BDUK) following a critical report on the programme.

Culture secretary Maria Miller is bidding for more public money to be spent on the broadband roll-out to remote parts of the UK and has decided that the BDUK programme needs to be overhauled as it is lacking in "commercial nous".

Ms Miller has asked Lord Deighton, former chief executive of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic games, to take a look into the current broadband system.

According to the Financial Times, she is going to suggest that the final ten per cent of the broadband roll-out programme should be spun off when she pitches for extra spending on Wednesday (June 16th).

Concerns with the programme emerged after Ms Miller commissioned Gerry Pennell, ex-chief information officer for the London Olympics, in secret to produce a report on BDUK. It was delivered in May, echoing concerns stated by the telecommunications industry over broadband roll-out costs and the complexity of the problem.

Additionally, it questioned whether BDUK really has the experience to deliver broadband across the UK and whether an organisation with more of a business mindset would be better placed for the major infrastructure project.

Indeed, criticism for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport is expected to come from the National Audit Office next month on its bidding process for the project. Only BT applied for government funding to roll out broadband and the company has since pushed back end dates to some BDUK contracts to 2016.

This is an issue Ms Miller wants to chase in her bid for extra public spending as she thinks more involvement from broadband providers could help generate funds that the programme needs for the last ten per cent of broadband roll-out.

Nevertheless, overall, the Pennell report said that broadband roll-out was going well as an average of 100,000 homes get access to the superfast service each week while speeds have almost doubled from 2010.