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DCMS seeks plaudits for 'broadband progress'

Friday, May 17th 2013 by Editorial
Government wants to take the credit for others' broadband efforts
The government seems keen to take credit for the work of commercial broadband providers.

There's no doubt that the government has come in for plenty of flak over its broadband plans. Everything from the overall target - delivering the best super-fast broadband network in Europe - to the methods of achieving it have been roundly criticised.

As a result, it was hardly surprising to see the Conservative-led coalition - and more specifically the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) - jumping at the opportunity to receive some plaudits this week by announcing a milestone for the Broadband Delivery UK framework. 

Hailing the progress made towards achieving a "broadband transformation" for Britain, the DCMS revealed that half of the 44 schemes involved in the process have now moved into the 'delivery phase' (that is, the councils involved have signed deals with BT).

In its official press release on the subject, the department went on to highlight the impressive-sounding results it has already achieved - with average download speeds more than doubling between May 2010 and November 2012, and super-fast broadband becoming available to a further 100,000 more homes and businesses every week.

However, what the government body conveniently neglected to mention was that it didn't really have anything to do with delivering those results - instead, they were achieved through the concerted efforts of private sector providers like BT and Virgin Media.

Under its £2.5 billion commercial rollout, BT is bringing the technology to two-thirds of the UK by the end of spring 2014, while Virgin Media is more than 85 per cent of the way through a programme that will double the speeds received by its broadband customers.

And that's not to mention the work carried out by smaller providers. Consider KC, for instance - the east Yorkshire-based company has already rolled out fibre optic broadband to 17,000 homes and businesses in areas such as Kingswood, the Greatfield estate and Beverley. By the end of this year, KC intends to deploy the service to another 15,000 properties in the region.

It's fair enough for the DCMS to expect credit where it's due, but this seems to be more a case of attempting to take the plaudits for other people's work - it's a little like John Terry's now-infamous celebrations following Chelsea's 2012 Uefa Champions League final victory, despite the defender playing no part in the match.

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