BT hits out at PAC comments about BDUK work

Telco claims MPs prioritised "soundbites over analysis" during yesterday's Public Accounts Committee hearing.

BT

BT claims to be "shocked and mystified" by the comments made about it during yesterday's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) hearing into the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) scheme.

The Government-funded initiative was set up to over the rollout of fibre broadband networks in rural areas, but despite numerous reports about deployment deals being clinched through the programme the scheme has been hit by delays and criticised for being non-competitive.

We are shocked and mystified by some of the ill-informed comments played back by members of the committee.

In a report by Government spending watchdog the National Audit Office earlier this month, it was claimed the project is 22 months behind schedule, and anti-competitive because after several other bidder bowed out BT has since become the programme's sole supplier.

During the four hour PAC hearing yesterday, both BT and the scheme came under fire again, with various rival telcos, MPs and industry watchers claiming lack of competition for BDUK contracts is putting taxpayers' money at risk.

BT was also accused of using "bullying" tactics against those involved in the initiative, while MPs were also told the regulations governing the process unfairly favoured the firm.

In a statement to IT Pro, BT expressed surprise at the accusations levied at the firm during the hearing, adding that it has made moves to get more companies involved in rural broadband rollouts.

"BT is investing billions of pounds to radically improve the UK's broadband network whilst ensuring all companies have access to it on an equal basis," the statement read.

"We are therefore shocked and mystified by some of the ill-informed comments played back by members of the committee.

"Deploying fibre broadband is a complex long-term investment but that was ignored today as MPs prioritised soundbites over analysis," it concluded.

Andrew Ferguson, editor of thinkbroadband.com, said the public doesn't care about industry in-fighting, and just wants to know when superfast broadband will be coming to their area.

"While the easy, and sometimes deserved, target of BT was seen to suffer and the BDUK itself was under attack, we are at least moving forward and have learnt a few key things [from the meeting]," said Ferguson.

"Information on where the various local authority projects will actually deploy the service is something that BT is happy for the authorities to release, and the data is in local authority hands."

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