BT Charges Jeopardising BDUK Broadband Scheme, ISPs Warn

The £830 million project to introduce superfast broadband services across the whole of the UK by the year 2015 has hit a major setback after a dispute between BT and other ISPs.

A letter to the government, leaked to newspapers including The Telegraph, revealed the outrage expressed by many ISPs over British Telecom’s “unfair” charges and terms and conditions for using their existing ducts and poles.

Many ISPs, including heavyweights like TalkTalk and Virgin Media have appealed to the British Government to intervene as they believe BT is being unfair with them, imposing four or five times higher prices than the actual underlying costs.

“We are unanimous in the belief that the BDUK competitive procurement process will lack a credible alternative to BT, should BT fail to make substantial revisions to… pricing,” the ISPs stated.

According to BT’s guidelines, ISPs have to bear a cost of £0.95 per metre every year, while the cost of sharing a pole is as high as £21 a year for every single pole attachment. ISPs, many of which are totally dependent on BT’s network, allege that these rates will cost them even more than building their own ducts and poles would.

ISPs warned that if the situation is not addressed the BDUK process "will fail to deliver the investment, quality, speed of rollout, innovation and value for money" to the taxpayer.

Reacting to these allegations, BT reportedly claims that the prices are actually quite reasonable if one compares them with the European averages. According to a BBC report, officials from BT further dismissed these objections by saying that its ironic for companies who provide “little or no whole-sale access to their assets” to come up with these allegations.