UK mobile firms join meeting on broadband plan

Oliver Smith
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TELECOMS groups including the UK’s largest mobile operators will today meet with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) over ongoing plans for the rural broadband rollout.

Executives from EE, Vodafone and Three will all attend a meeting to explore ways of expanding coverage using mobile technologies, according to a report from the Financial Times.

The DCMS came under fire last week from the government spending watchdog for failing to ensure a competitive process for the £530m of superfast broadband contracts that have all been won by BT so far.

Mobile operators last week called on the government to reconsider its plans for the remaining £250m of the rural broadband fund in order to explore alternative options for the Broadband Delivery UK project (BDUK).

“The current BDUK process simply will not deliver value for money nor the rural connectivity that Britain needs. The Government should urgently revise the process to encompass wireless 4G in order to make digital Britain a reality,” said a spokesperson for Vodafone UK last week.

The rural broadband project is designed to cover 90 per cent of the country with superfast broadband by 2015, but the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said last week that the DCMS had mismanaged the bidding process for the contracts by not making them competitive enough.

“BT will still benefit from owning assets created from £1.2 billion of public funding once the Programme is complete,” the PAC report said.

Vodafone, EE, O2 and Three have all committed to reaching 4G coverage of 98 per cent of the UK population by 2015, however the speeds of the 4G mobile internet have not been guaranteed for the coverage meaning that it may fall below what the government consider as superfast.