Rural areas ‘missing out on broadband’

Superfast: BT engineers at work
Superfast: BT engineers at work
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BT’s “near-monopoly” of Government contracts is leading to villages and areas of a city missing out on super-fast broadband, MPs have heard.

Conservative Eric Ollerenshaw told the Commons parts of Lancaster and whole villages in his constituency were being neglected by the telecommunications giant as it rolls out the programme to improve connection speeds.

BT has secured the majority of the contracts as the Government aims to deliver access to super-fast broadband connections to 90 per cent of the UK by 2015.

Claims have previously emerged in the Commons that BT had been helped by the Government, making it almost impossible for other operators to compete to provide broadband in semi-rural areas. The suggestion was denied,

The Lancaster and Fleetwood MP quizzed Digital Industries Minister Ed Vaizey about the “monopoly”.

Mr Vaizey replied: “I’m very happy to meet with you and talk about the specific circumstances in your constituency.”

In the past, BT has also been accused of encroaching upon independently-funded Broadband for the Rural North’s (B4RN) catchment areas in north Lancashire.

A community spokesman said today: “BT don’t want competition. Eric knows what his constituents want and he is trying to get it for them.”

In a statement, a BT spokesman said in response to Mr Ollerenshaw: “BT is investing huge amounts of its own money to improve fibre coverage in Lancashire whilst other companies chose not to invest.”