Rural Broadband Mess Handed BT a Near-Monopoly and Was a Rip-Off, Say MPs

By Gary Cutlack on at

The Commons Public Accounts Committee has declared the UK's rural broadband plan a complete disaster, after the so-called bidding process led to BT winning every single one of the contracts -- and all the money -- to wire remote communities up to faster broadband.

Fujitsu and BT were the only companies to bid for the subsidised cash pots to help introduce fibre to the sparsely populated, unprofitable parts of the country, with BT winning all the first round contracts and a demoralised Fujitsu eventually pulling out of further bids.

This has left BT with a large chunk of taxpayer cash to expand its network, with the Public Accounts Committee saying the process initiated by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has "failed to deliver the intended competition for contracts, with the result that BT has strengthened its already strong position in the market."

Margaret Hodge, the committee chair, said in more layman-like terms: "The taxpayer has been ripped off with £1.2bn going to the shareholders of BT." [PAC via BBC]