Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) has revealed that it is to invest more money into rural broadband systems, according to its CEO Chris Townsend.
The cash that will be invested comes from the £150 million underspend by local authorities during Phase 1 of the government’s BDUK rural connectivity project.
Along with the £129 million gained so far from BT under the ‘gain share claw back mechanism’, with more expected to come, this means that Phase 2 of the BDUK project will see a reinvestment of over £280 million. This phase is beginning now.
Townsend said at the Connected Britain event in London that he was hard at work with local authorities to maximise their broadband spending and budgets.
He reflected on the Phase 1 progress by highlighting County Durham as an example of a rural local authority that the BDUK has covered.
In the region, coverage has gone up from 60% to 98% of premises over the course of the last three years, delivering broadband speeds of more than 24Mbps to almost 150,000 premises.
BDUK’s second phase is due to be complete by the end of next year and will see an increase of coverage from 90% to 95% in UK premises, in both business and residential premises.
However, in a difference from Phase 1, 10 contracts have been awarded to smaller suppliers like Gigaclear as opposed to BT securing them all.
Townsend said that he had been hard at work over the last two years to create competition in the market place by investing time in working with smaller suppliers to make sure they don’t miss out on BDUK contracts, while also launching their own commercial programmes with local bodies throughout the UK.
He also revealed that Hybrid networks will be used by the organisation to make up the final 5% of their overall target, through alternative technologies such as satellite and fixed wireless.