Government holds consultation on broadband delivery

A meeting to tap the industry for its knowledge on broadband delivery is taking place in Whitehall today, but DCMS gives little notice for companies to be prepared

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) wants advice on how to introduce broadband to the 5% of the country that won't be included in the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) rollout.

DCMS is holding a meeting today with potential suppliers to discuss different technologies that could be used to extend coverage from the commercial roll-out and government-funded projects confirmed so far, such as mobile and wireless solutions.

“The government will explore with industry how to expand coverage further using more innovative fixed, wireless and mobile broadband solutions to reach at least 99% of premises in the UK by 2018,” said the department.

“BDUK is keen to understand the potential to expand the network of suppliers involved in the delivery of superfast broadband and as such is seeking supplier views on the delivery approaches to extend superfast broadband coverage beyond the levels currently provided for by local bodies’ existing supplier contracts.”

The exercise has been widely praised, but the department received criticism for arranging the conference at the last minute – information was posted only a week before the date of the meeting, giving little notice to companies that wanted to present their expertise and tools. The DCMS also failed to inform known stakeholders of the meeting, who eventually found out about it through press coverage.

Yet, in its notice, the deadline for contributions was stated as the end of the month, meaning there should be other ways to submit solutions rather than just attending the meeting.

The notice said: “BDUK is seeking expressions of interest from potential prime contractors, consortia, sub-contractors or other interested parties in the broadband delivery supply chain who may be interested in responding to any subsequent procurement activity and is using this PIN (prior information notice) as a mechanism to identify as many suppliers as possible in this space. Supplier views will be requested by the end of October 2013 at the latest.”

It is unclear whether any of the meeting’s discussion will be made public with the department’s spokesperson unable to confirm if a statement would be made after it had taken place.

The news comes as controversy continues to surround the BDUK project. Many councils involved in the rollout are refusing to publish data of where the coverage areas will be in order to protect the commercial interests of BT. This is despite the telecoms firm saying it is happy for the data to be published and culture secretary Maria Miller asking the local authorities to release it as soon as possible.  

Computer Weekly has been seeking the information from councils and has published everything we have found so far here.

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