BT signs another high-speed rural broadband deal in Dorset

BT has signed another high-speed rural broadband deal - the latest with Dorset County Council, worth some £31.75 million - following yesterday's announcement of a big-money partnership with the Scottish government

BT is now set to get a total of around £1.2 billion from councils and central government to speed fibre broadband roll-outs across rural areas of the UK.

BT is the only company in a rural broadband deal subsidised by the government to the tune of around £530 million. Fujitsu was the only other company in the framework, but pulled out after saying it couldn't compete with BT.

A number of other major networks and telecoms suppliers steered away from entering the framework, claiming all the cards were stacked in BT's favour for winning the government subsidised work, which attracts matching funding from the councils involved.

BT was already on the ground laying high-speed fibre for its commercial rollouts anyway, so it was in poll position to win the work around the country.

The Dorset deal promises to deliver high-speed fibre optic broadband to 97 per cent of premises in the county "within three and a half years" - if they sign up and pay for it.

The Superfast Dorset project builds on BT’s commercial rollout of fibre broadband, which has already made the technology available to more than half of Dorset’s homes and businesses (more than 190,000 premises), said BT.

BT is contributing £12.87 million towards the overall cost of the new fibre deployment in “non-commercial” areas, while Dorset County Council and the county’s district and borough councils are contributing £9.44 million, and the government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) unit a further £9.44 million.

Spencer Flower, leader of Dorset County Council, said, “It's very important this broadband technology is made available to as many residents and businesses as possible. We want everyone in Dorset to have access to reliable and faster broadband within the next three and a half years.

“We know that some residents and businesses are frustrated by slow or no broadband access in Dorset, especially in rural areas - it’s one of the biggest issues facing our county."

In a recent report the National Audit Office said councils and central government would "struggle" to check the costs BT was levying to build the rural broadband networks around the UK.