Local councils are still not publishing enough geographical information about BT’s fibre rollout, a committee of MPs has claimed.
The Public Accounts Committee last year attacked BT and local councils for failing to reveal exactly where they plan to roll out fibre broadband, using public money from the government’s rural broadband programme.
In a report published today, the Committee claims that councils have ignored its criticism, leaving potential rivals with insufficient information to decide whether or not they can “plug the gaps” that BT hasn’t filled.
“There is still not enough consistently good information published by local bodies about planned rural broadband coverage and speed,” the committee’s report states.
“Despite our recommendation last September, many of the maps currently available do not give sufficiently detailed information about BT’s coverage to be of use to other potential suppliers seeking to plug the gaps.”
Detailed coverage maps?
The committee urges that, following fresh guidance from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport in January, councils should “set out where and when superfast broadband will be rolled out, and do so at 7-digit postcode level”.
However, BT has long argued that it’s not possible to provide detailed, postcode-level data before it’s completed in-depth surveys of each area, which often isn’t until shortly before work begins in a particular area.
That argument doesn’t seem to have impressed the MPs. “It is still not good enough that, despite £1.2 billion of public money being spent, it is taking so long to get this information out there. Any lack of clear and easily accessible public information will only make it harder for other potential suppliers to prepare bids for the next round of funding.”