The UK government’s official auditors have said that plans to introduce superfast broadband to rural areas is going to be delivered almost two years late and taxpayers will be footing a bigger percentage of the $1.2 billion bill.
Less than 25 percent of the planned projects will be ready by May 2015 according to the report and the scheme is going to cost the public an extra £207 million.
The government have already said that superfast broadband will reach 95 percent of the population by 2017, two years after the date set for achieving that target.
Only nine of 44 local projects are said to be running on time for the 2015 planned date. The delay is said to be linked to an EU state aid process which has taken six months longer than expected.
BT are said to be expected to win all 44 local projects due to a lack of competition, not a good sign. Worst affected areas are Oxfordshire, Merseyside and Derbyshire. Residents in these areas have still no knowledge of when their broadband services will be upgraded.
It is an embarrassment for UK prime minister David Cameron who stated in 2011 that the expansion and improvements would be “absolutely vital in driving the creation of the small businesses and growing businesses that will be so important to keep the growth of employment in our country.”
The Guardian newspaper in the UK added “Helen Goodman, the shadow media minister, said many in the countryside were being left without access to the internet at a time when the government was shifting essential services online.”We are not a ‘one nation’ country with this digital divide, and that divide is being deepened by [the culture secretary] Maria Miller,” she said.
The report has been seized upon by Tory opponents of the HS2 rail scheme as proof that the government has got its priorities wrong. The former cabinet minister Cheryl Gillan said: “This is disappointing and an example of how putting more resources into this type of operation would yield more immediate benefits to the wider economy rather than spending money on HS2.””
As it stands now, superfast broadband will be available to almost two thirds of the United Kingdom by next spring. The government need to step in to offer support for the final third, as it is in non profitable areas.
A BT spokesman said “We have been very transparent from the outset and have invested hundreds of millions of pounds when others decided to ignore rural Britain.”
Kitguru says: We can’t say we are surprised.