BT rural broadband deal under threat

”A proposed £600m deal between the Government and BT’s network subsidiary Openreach to deliver superfast broadband to 1.4 million rural homes faces legal hurdles.

It is understood that legal advisers have raised concerns that a voluntary offer from Openreach could be challenged in the courts as unfair state support.

Talks between officials and the company are ongoing in the hope of finding a solution, but sources said discussions towards a voluntary investment by Openreach were proving “very challenging”. In some areas the upgrade would come on top of £1.2bn in subsidies that funded upgrades for easier-to-reach rural homes.

The Government has the option of imposing new regulations that would force Openreach to upgrade rural broadband lines when requested, but both sides would prefer a deal that they say would deliver quicker results. Ministers are keen for the final 5pc of homes that cannot receive a 10 megabits per second connection to be upgraded by 2022 at the latest.

New regulation would be welcomed by BT’s rivals, however, who fear that Openreach would be able to dictate the technological and financial terms of a negotiated deal. …”

2 thoughts on “BT rural broadband deal under threat

  1. The “final 5%” who will need to rely on a USO however provided may seem like a small number but almost all of those properties are in rural areas because the mixed fibre/copper FTTC technology used by BT under te CDS Phase 1 contract focussed on urban areas where cabinet to property distance is short. In rural areas where 20% of the UK population live FTTC does not work, so the final 5% is almost entirely within the 20% meaning that in rural areas as many as 25% of all properties will depend on whatever is provided by the USO even the meagre 10Mbps that is proposed.


    • I live about 1 mile outside the local town, though the phone line is probably nearer 1.5m-2m long from the exchange. We get c. 8Mb copper broadband on this line.

      The backbone fibre to the local exchange runs right past our front gate. Our property is fibre enabled – we can get fibre broadband. However it would be no faster than our existing copper broadband because the fibre stops at the roadside cabinet in the town centre and there is still c. 1.5m-2m of copper to our house.

      This is the difference between super-fast broadband (which is what CDS were led to expect) and fibre-broadband (to the green cabinet – which is what BT actually delivered).

      So the best we can get with either standard or fibre is 8Mb which is below the Universal Service Obligation.

      Its a farce.

      Openreach is an unregulated monopoly which (because it is unregulated) puts generating obscene profits for BT ahead of providing a quality service and ahead of keeping the UK competitive.


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