BDUK delays aren't all bad news - whoever's at fault
There's been plenty of buck-passing in the past few days regarding delays to the UK's super-fast broadband strategy.
In what sounds like a pretty childish spat, Culture Secretary Maria Miller laid the blame for the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) project being held up firmly at the door of the EU, only for European competition chief Joaquin Almunia to tell the Financial Times that Brussels bureaucrats have worked faster than their counterparts in London.
According to Mr Almunia, the EU wasn't able to approve the BDUK framework because officials were left kicking their heels while the coalition government took an age over providing all the necessary information.
BDUK has been much maligned - we've had our fair share of digs at the government agency ourselves - but delays to the nationwide super-fast broadband rollout might not be the worst news imaginable.
Okay, so it's clear that the government's plans - supported by hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers' money - are going to prove crucial to bringing faster broadband within reach of rural residents and businesses across the length and breadth of the country.
But arguably the biggest problem with the framework is the decision to exclude smaller communications operators from becoming preferred providers, with only BT and Fujitsu allowed to bid for contracts (although Fujitsu is yet to win a single one).
So it follows, therefore, that any slipping of the BDUK timetable paves the way for these small telecoms firms to roll out their own networks without fear of being immediately undercut by a publicly-subsidised alternative.
One such company grabbing the bull by the horns is Gigaclear, which this month announced plans to speed up its rural fibre optic broadband deployment programme after securing further equity financing.
Having already installed networks in Hambleton in Rutland and Appleton and Eaton in Oxfordshire, the operator is looking to undertake further rollouts in four more communities in which "substantial" pre-orders have already been taken.
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