The UK’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has conceded that it is likely to miss the government’s stated target of bringing superfast broadband services to 90 per cent of the country’s population by 2015, with those in rural areas most likely to suffer.
UK daily the Financial Times reports that the DCMS has confirmed that the procurement process for rural broadband projects is already three months behind schedule, while nearly 30 of the 45 local authority and devolved areas covering the UK are still not off the starting blocks.
Despite setting a target of completing all procurements for rural broadband by December 2012, with the expectation that a bidding framework would be agreed by the beginning of April, the Department now concedes that the first procurements only began last month, due to lengthy wrangling over the bidding framework.
Incumbent telco BT has already committed itself to spending £2.5bn on lighting up the most commercially-viable households (accounting for two-thirds of the country), and added another two million UK homes and businesses to its fibre footprint in the three months to last June, bringing the total to in excess of 11 million premises.
Meanwhile, the Broadband Delivery UK programme has allocated £530m to help fund the installation of better broadband infrastructure in the country’s more remote regions, with the private sector expected to match this figure.
Many potential bidders have already dropped out of the bidding process for contracts however, due to the costs involved in bidding for each contract separately rather than in blocks, with the result that BT is collecting the lion’s share of the work.
However, despite these delays, the UK appears on track to have superfast connections of up to 24Mbits/s available to the vast majority of households by 2015, and universal access to connections of at least 2Mbits/s.