UK broadband project running two years late, auditors chide

The project is also expected to cost £207m more than planned -- a bill that will be footed by the taxpayers.

The government's scheme to bring speedy broadband to rural parts of the UK is running late, and will be much more expensive than planned, an auditing body has warned.

The plan, which aims to introduce superfast Internet speeds to 90 per cent of home in each region of the country, was supposed to be wrapped up in 2015, but is now scheduled for 2017, the National Audit Office has said in a report.

The report also takes aim at a lack of competition in the government-assisted project, with BT the only remaining company that is expected to contribute its technology to the plan. 

BT is likely to win all 44 local projects for speedy broadband, the NOA said, with the telecoms giant now expected to contribute less money to the project than expected, leaving taxpayers to provide the £207m difference.

Only nine of the total 44 broadband projects are now expected to hit the initial 2015 deadline.

By the end of the programme, BT will have benefited from a whopping £1.2bn of the public's cash, the report says.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is said to have mustered "only limited transparency" over how much money is involved in BT's bids.

The scheme was partly held up by the EU, which had to give the green light before the scheme could begin in earnest .

A report in January said that the average broadband speed in the UK was a modest 6.3Mbps -- slower than Romania's average 6.4Mbps .

How fast is your Internet? Does the government need to pull its finger out with the broadband scheme, or was the whole project a daft idea from day one? Let me know your thoughts in the comments, or on our Facebook wall.

About the author

Luke Westaway is a senior editor at CNET and writer/ presenter of Adventures in Tech, a thrilling gadget show produced in our London office. Luke's focus is on keeping you in the loop with a mix of video, features, expert opinion and analysis.


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