TechTarget

BDUK to grill local authorities on broadband postcode data

New BDUK CEO Chris Townsend plans urgent review of local authorities to establish which are releasing broadband postcode data

BDUK is to conduct a review of 44 local authorities in the UK to establish which councils are releasing postcode data showing the communities in line for broadband funding and which are keeping quiet.

Chris Townsend, who took over the role of BDUK CEO at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) in April, said one of his key priorities was to work more effectively alongside both BT and local authorities.

“We are encouraging all projects to publish seven-digit postcode data but it is down to local authorities,” said Townsend. “I am aiming to conduct a review this month to see who is doing it and who is not.”

Townsend was speaking as DCMS announced the names of eight firms that have been successful in winning a share of a £10m funding pot to trial technologies that could help BDUK meet its aim of bringing superfast broadband to 95% of the UK by 2017.

The postcode data showing where BDUK supplier BT plans to roll out superfast broadband is important to smaller providers because it will give them some indication of whether or not it is worth competing with BT.

At first, both BDUK and BT gave local authorities permission to publish this data. However, many councils declined to release it, claiming they had signed contracts with BT that suggested the data was commercially sensitive.

BT has itself since backtracked over its previous commitment to release the granular figures, saying that any data made available now would undoubtedly change as survey work continued, so “local authorities would have raised hopes only to have dashed them”. The supplier has no problem with councils revealing high-level plans, such as indicative coverage maps.

Townsend reiterated BT’s view that it was likely that there would indeed be some minor changes at a very local level that meant the final superfast roll-out in a specific area would differ from the original plans.

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