Government Admits Three Month BDUK Delay
The Department of Culture, Media and Sport has confirmed delay to BDUK procurement timetable
The rollout of superfast broadband to rural areas under the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme is set to be delayed by at least three months, the government has confirmed.
The Department of Culture, Media and Sport confirmed the delay to the Financial Times, the first time it has admitted to any such setback, which raises doubts about the government’s target of bringing superfast broadband to 90 percent of the UK population by 2015.
BDUK aims to ensure that areas that are not commercially don’t miss out on the benefits of superfast broadband, but critics argue that the £530 million of funding available under the scheme simply isn’t enough and that there is an estimated funding gap of more than £1 billion.
The delay specifically applies to local authorities wishing to use the government procurement process, with 30 of the 45 local authorities and devolved areas not even starting the process. The government had hoped to complete procurements by December 2012, a target based on the fact that a framework for bidding would have been agreed by April, but this started just last month.
Most areas are yet to begin the tender process and with procurement expected to take at least 28 weeks, the revised March target could be an optimistic one. However, the government remains committed to its 2015 target and has blamed lengthy negotiations with the European Union over the state aid required to subsidise projects.
Many private sector suppliers have dropped out of the running due to the cost of bidding separately for different contracts.
Earlier this month, TechWeekEurope exclusively revealed that the European Commission was actively investigating the BDUK process after many raised concerns that only BT and Fujitsu are set to gain contracts with local councils.
BT won the first funding from the BDUK scheme in April, which added to the £2.5 billion it is spending on rolling out superfast broadband to the most commercially viable areas of the UK.
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