UK government offered £600m universal broadband deal by BT
The UK Government announced this week that it has received an offer to provide universal high-speed broadband – with a minimum of 10 Mbps - to homes and businesses in every part of the UK by 2022.
Made by telecoms giant BT, the proposed deal would see the service offered “voluntarily” across the country through the Openreach platform.
BT has proposed to cover the scheme’s investment – projected at between £450 million and £600 million – by recovering costs through charging for access to its local access networks.
The government announced that it was considering the offer and that, thanks to BT’s offer to build all the necessary infrastructure rather than waiting for businesses to request it, such plans would replace the Universal Service Obligation (USO) that it has committed to.
Which course of action Whitehall will follow remains to be seen, though Digital Minister Dan Hancock said that bills may rise because of the deal.
He stated: "Nothing is going to be paid for by taxpayers here. We have already subsidised superfast broadband to the tune of £1.7 billion.
"It's likely that it'll be paid for through every broadband bill."
BT has said that whether its deal is accepted or the government retains a regulatory approach, its aim is to help deliver its goal of universal broadband access to the UK.
Some industry commentators disagree, however, saying that numerous promises to the British public about raising broadband speeds have been broken.
Current figures issued by the government estimate that the UK sits at 93 per cent high speed broadband penetration at present – 1.5 million homes short of the 99 per cent target set by David Cameron under the previous administration.
Speaking to IT Pro, Quocirca analyst Clive Longbottom said that no matter how good the intentions, the 2022 deadline may well not be met.
He added: “Openreach reckons that it can introduce this mix of technologies at a cost of no more than £400 per home. If this is the case, why hasn't it been done before?”