Suffolk: Criticisms that Better Broadband deal ‘did not go far enough’
PUBLISHED: 14:16 06 January 2014 | UPDATED: 14:16 06 January 2014
A deal to bring superfast broadband to households across Suffolk has come under fire for failing rural communities.
Although BT is currently delivering the Better Broadband for Suffolk (BB4S)contract ahead of schedule, some councillors claim the company should have been obliged to provide more widespread coverage when the multimillion pound deal was signed in December 2012.
Stephen Burroghes, county councillor for Framlingham, said he was “slightly annoyed” that BT had only been tied down to cover 85% of the county with the £11.8 million of taxpayers’ money already invested in the project and that more funding on top of that had been required to increase coverage further.
“We need to tighten up on our procurement,” he said in his report to Framlingham Town Council on Thursday.
Speaking after the meeting, he added: “There were some concerns that the contract did not go far enough and it could have all been tied up at the beginning, instead of having to go back to the Government for more money.”
Christopher Hudson, vice chairman at the county council, was also keen to see the full extent of the roll-out.
“I remain very optimistic that they will fulfil the contract but the proof of the pudding will be in the eating,” he said.
“I understand that it has been rolled out across cities such as Liverpool but we’re not yet seeing it all.”
A Suffolk County Council (SCC) spokesman, however, explained that BT has met all of its agreed milestones in the project.
The additional funding which was sought from government before Christmas, the spokesman said, was to increase superfast coverage above the 85% originally determined.
“SCC is working with the Government to further extend BB4S to include any premises not currently served, or planned to be served,” the spokesman said.
BT has and insisted that nobody has done more than it to bring faster broadband across the county, highlighting the £18 million it has contributed to the project.
“We are committed to continuing works to expand the deployment as widely as possible in Suffolk,” the spokesman said.
The company said its deployment was ahead of schedule and more than 10,000 homes had gained access to faster broadband in the first four months of action.
“This is just the early stages of this major programme,” the spokesman added.
“Every three months between now and the end of 2015, approximately 10,000 more properties will be given access to better broadband.”