The Independent Networks Co-operative Association is calling for the money currently being handed back into the various BDUK projects to be shared out around alt-net providers via a competitive process. The money involved is from the gain share (clawback) mechanism that BT activated with the change of its take-up assumptions from 20% to 30% recently and amounted to £129m nationally.
"“INCA represents a wide range of alternative suppliers, and many are already making excellent progress delivering super and ultrafast broadband services in urban and rural areas. Increasingly, government and BDUK see these suppliers as forming an important part of the mix for maximising coverage and achieving the best possible value for money for local broadband schemes. More often than not, investment from altnets requires less public subsidy than Telcos, for example, 50% rather than 85%, and regularly requires no public funding at all. This is in part due to their local knowledge of the community and geography, as well as the fact that they can be far more flexible in their approach and commit private investment to areas that BT finds challenging.
In many of our towns, cities and rural areas, alternative suppliers including Gigaclear, Hyperoptic, ITS Technology, CityFibre and UK Broadband, are building new ultrafast and superfast networks with great success, creating the digital infrastructure necessary to help our businesses and economy thrive. Often they work in partnership with other providers and with community schemes, for example B4RN, Fibre GarDen and Cybermoor. It is unacceptable that many urban areas, in addition to the well-publicised rural notspots, still suffer from poor broadband. It is the alternative providers that are often willing to invest in digitally deprived areas when others would prefer to wait for a subsidy to materialise.Malcolm Corbett, CEO of INCA
We can foresee one glaring problem and that the original BDUK contracts probably defined how the process would operate in terms of the claw back mechanism, so any changes now are likely to take time to administer and if lawyers become involved might actually waste a chunk of the money with consultations. Not all the phase 2 has gone to BT, so we will be able to assess how alt-net take-up compares to the BT projects eventually, for example what will the Relish (UK Broadband) fixed 4G LTE network in Swindon deliver.