It seems that there may be some confusion about what the EU State Aid rules that the existing BDUK contracts are running under and this has resulted in another Telegraph article as part of the Better Broadband Campaign.
"However this will still leave five per cent of the UK – around one million properties – without access to these superfast speeds.
Of these one million homes, some 600,000 are in rural areas and 400,000 are in towns and cities.
The Government’s is currently using a £1 billion subsidy to extend superfast internet to hard to reach areas.
However, under the terms of the deal which were hammered out with Brussels bureaucrats, the subsidy is only intended to be used in rural areas.Extract from Telegraph article
A large part of the BDUK roll-out is in rural areas, but there is evidence of areas like Sheffield which hosted the failed Digital Region project where the South Yorkshire BDUK project is now delivering cabinets in the urban area of Sheffield and Manchester is also seeing roll-out. Scotland and Wales are also delivering cabinets in urban areas where the market in the open market reviews have said they had no commercial plans to go and we could go on and on with more examples. Plus plenty of campaigners have moaned about cabinets being enabled with gap funding in numerous large towns across the UK that also fall into the ONS Urban definition.
How The Telegraph has decided the split of who the final 5% will be is impossible to know, and while those figures are not impossible unless Virgin Media, Hyperoptic and numerous other mostly urban operators have furnished them with roll-out plans they cannot know for sure. As things stand today, of those not in the 90.5% of the UK with access to over 24 Mbps (superfast) speeds 970,000 fall into Urban Great Britain, and 1.7 million are in rural Great Britain and until we have seen where Virgin Media and others deliver we won't know the true effect.
Mike Kiely is quoted in the article as suggesting Whitehall could try and let subsidy 'drift' into urban areas, but as the example of Sheffield shows existing projects are able to do so as long there is not public funding for over building of existing superfast networks.
We suspect the article is really about why London did not have a BDUK project and the reason most of London does not have a phase 1 BDUK project or even phase 2 is because of the coverage levels, i.e. when the aim was 90% London was still enjoying the commercial roll-outs and was at 84.3% superfast coverage at the end of 2012 and the commercial roll-outs have pushed this to 94.2% and it is growing by 0.1% to 0.2% a month (this is a mixture of BT commercial roll-out, Virgin Media and now a small number of community/privately funded cabinets - once we add Hyperoptic and others to the superfast figures it might jump to 95%) so looks to not need any public money to hit the 95% target. Of course for those in London with no superfast access this is not good but when other parts of the UK are a lot less served one has to expect help to go there first.