The councils of Wiltshire and South Gloucestershire have awarded BT a multi-million pound contract to roll out superfast broadband.
The two local authorities formed a partnership when applying for government funding for the project, which aims to provide minimum connections of 2Mbps for every household and business in the area, and superfast broadband for those it can reach, by 2015.
They got the go-ahead from BDUK – the organisation in charge of allocating the £530m government money for investing in broadband infrastructure – with just under £5.4m of funding awarded.
Wiltshire will invest £15.5m from council funds and a further £2.2m will come from South Gloucestershire. Computer Weekly asked BT how much of its own cash it would be investing, but the firm had not responded by the time of publication.
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“This project is vital to our economy,” said John Thomson, cabinet member for communities at Wiltshire Council. “Having high speed internet connectivity will be critical to the success of businesses already based in the county, and will also be a huge attraction to those looking to move in.”
“Delivering broadband improvements remain a high priority for this council and our ambitious project will bring about huge social and economic benefits,” added councillor John Goddard, chair of the resources sub-committee at South Gloucestershire Council.
“We recognise that high-speed internet connections are vital for South Gloucestershire’s economic future and for promoting business growth and encouraging inward investment.”
EC investigation holds up broadband roll-out
There will be a delay in the beginning of the project, as BDUK is still awaiting the approval of the European Commission.
The EC decided to investigate the scheme after questions were raised about how competitive the process was, due to BT’s dominance in the bidding.
BT has maintained it is following the rules like everyone else and it was down to individual councils who they awarded the contracts to. However, with only BT and Fujitsu able to bid for the big contracts, and BT named the winner in a number of cases, the investigation has continued.
A decision from the EC is expected by the end of the month.