DCMS gags next gen broadband suppliers
The nine companies long-listed as suppliers under the BDUK’s next generation broadband procurement framework process have had to sign non-disclosure agreements (NDA) that stop them from talking to firms that might become local sub-contractors .
One of the firms said the NDA did not allow it to discuss whether the NDA existed, who asked for it, and what reason it was given for having to sign it.. Others declined to comment or referred queries to the Department of Culture, Media & Sport, which did not respond to queries.
The long-listed firms are BT, Fujitsu Telecom, Network Rail, Capita, BeyondDSL, Parsons Brinkershoff (Balfour Beatty, ALU and Cable&Wireless Worldwide), Kcom, Thales and Geo. These are expected to be whittled down to six.
The companies will compete for hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money that the government has set aside for extending high speed broadband to not-spots, particularly rural areas. DCMS has advertised for an accountant to watch the BDUK cash flow.
Local county councils and enterprise funds will be responsible for spending the money and ensuring that they get value for money. Culture minister Jeremy Hunt has said the people who control the purse strings should use the money to support local businesses as far as possible.
However, the NDA means that companies likely to win BDUK-funded contracts are unable to discuss their needs and invite solutions from local suppliers. As a result, unless firms break their gag, customers will have to wait longer for services, thus destroying Hunt’s target of the “the best broadband network in Europe by 2015”.