Commission won’t vet BDUK’s broadband bung
The European Commission may have decided not to object to BDUK’s plans to give £530m of taxpayers’ money to BT and Fujitsu Telecom under the BDUK rural broadband procurement framework.
A notice on the EC’s Competition website indicates a decision taken on 28 March “not to raise objections” to “compensation for net costs incurred to keep a non-commercially viable network for the period 2012-15 and the continuation of a working capital facility”.
It adds the public version of the decision will be made available “as soon as it has been cleansed of any confidential information”.
Br0kenTeleph0n3 reported earlier that only BT and Fujitsu remain from the original nine potential suppliers since Cable & Wireless Worldwide pulled out of the running.
BDUK applied in May last year for blanket clearance for BDUK’s contribution to UK local authorities’ broadband procurement contracts under state aid rules. If the competition directorate had denied the request, it would have had to scrutinise at least 45 contracts.
The department of culture, media and sports, BDUK’s parent, published its grants to county authorities in August 2011.
The original intention was to use the money to boost broadband access in the “final third” of the country. Somehow the goal has morphed into “the best broadband in Europe by 2015”. This suggests a wider spending remit than current broadband not spots.
If this is indeed the commission’s decision, only one person recently hired by BDUK will be directly responsible for overseeing how councils spend their grants. That person also has to manage BDUK’s internal budget of £16.5m.