BT has refuted claims that it is a ‘grant junkie’ when it comes to winning deals under the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme. BT is the sole supplier for the programme following Fujitsu’s departure from competition in March this year.
BT was heavily criticised at the Internet Service Provider’s Association annual conference last week. Critics claim that the scheme has failed to drive the SME market and is poor value for money.
Malcolm Corbett, CEO of the Independent Networks Co-Operative Association (INCA), said: “Everything has changed for anyone who works from home. Upload speeds have become increasingly important now, and are almost as important as download speeds. Businesses that operate from homes in rural areas need the same quality connections as we have in urban areas. INCA members would argue, we need to be focused on creating a transformational digital infrastructure that will underpin the future economic livelihood of Britain.”
Corbett went on to say: “BT has been brilliant at scoring £1.2 billion in grant funding without actually telling anybody what it’s really going to go with the money or what it’s really going to cost. It’s situation where it’s very hard for the public sector, because there’s no competition, to tell if it’s getting genuine value for money for this.”
In response to this criticism a BT spokesperson said in a statement to IT Pro: “Others have been able to sit on the sidelines and snipe, but if there was really an easy buck to be made out of delivering this stuff, then the queue of companies lining up to take these so-called ’grants’ would’ve stretched a lot longer than just BT,” the BT statement reads. Not only that, but the whole BDUK model is based around us delivering first and accepting the payback period for our shareholders will stretch well over a decade. We’re also taking on-board all of the financial risk in terms of take-up once the fibre goes in the ground, so to suggest BT is simply soaking up hand-outs is completely disingenuous.”
The statement went on to say: “We were originally due to complete our commercial rollout (to 19 million UK premises) by the end of 2015. That dates has jumped forward to the end of Spring 2014, so we are well ahead of schedule. Meanwhile many BDUK projects are going over their 90 per cent coverage targets, and thousands of homes and businesses are being hooked up every week.”
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