‘Monopoly’ row as county broadband rollout grows

LINKING UP: BT engineeers at work and, below, Coun Sean Serridge
LINKING UP: BT engineeers at work and, below, Coun Sean Serridge
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The next batch of communities to benefit from the £130 million Superfast Lancashire broadband programme have been announced – as a powerful Commons committee said BT had been given an effective monopoly by the Government. to run the project.

High-speed fibre broadband will soon start to become available in new areas including Belmont, Eccleston, Croston, and Mawdesley near Chorley.

County Councillor Sean Serridge

County Councillor Sean Serridge

Other areas include White Hills Business Park in Fylde, Bolton by Bowland, Ribchester, Knott End, Hambleton, St Michaels and Preesall.

When this latest phase is completed, an additional 28,000 homes and businesses will be able to access high-speed fibre broadband.

Superfast Lancashire is a partnership between Lancashire County Council and BT, with additional funding from the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK, as well as the European Regional Development Fund, Blackburn with Darwen Council and Blackpool Council.

Coun Sean Serridge, champion for digital inclusion at Lancashire County Council, said: “This is a great achievement and shows we are well on the way to achieving our goal of providing 97 per cent of the county with high-speed broadband by the end of next year.”

BT has won all 44 contracts awarded nationally under the scheme to extend broadband services to rural areas considered not commercially viable.

MPs said the Department for Culture, Media and Sport had put BT in a strong position.

Margaret Hodge, who chairs the committee said: “The Government has failed to deliver meaningful competition in the procurement of its £1.2 billion rural broadband programme, leaving BT effectively in a monopoly position.”