The UK government and telecommunications giant BT have been criticised for the rollout of broadband across more rural areas in Britain.
According to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), the plans lack sufficient information about the coverage and speeds that will be available.
Besides this, there are concerns about the cost of the project and issues with BT being the sole supplier for the project.
“The government has failed to deliver meaningful competition in procurement of its £1.2bn rural broadband programme, leaving BT effectively in monopoly,” claimed Margaret Hodge, PAC Chair.
“Since our hearing in July last year, when 26 of the 44 contracts to deliver this were with BT, all remaining contracts have now gone to BT.
“Despite our warnings last September, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has allowed poor cost transparency and the lack of detailed broadband rollout plans to create conditions whereby alternative suppliers may be crowded out,” she continued.
Both the BT and Whitehall have defended themselves against the allegations.
Communications minister Ed Vaizey highlighted that the UK was recently ranked ahead of the other leading European economies when it comes to broadband provision.
“The government’s nationwide broadband rollout is ahead of schedule; multiple robust safeguards are already in place to ensure value for money, and thousands of homes and businesses up and down the country are already getting the benefits,” he claimed.
Meanwhile, BT has told the UK press that it is “frustrating” that PAC keeps “picking holes” in the rural broadband scheme.
“BT is delivering value for money and the National Audit Office acknowledged there are ‘robust’ processes in place to ensure that,” claimed the firm.
“As for maps, most councils have published coverage maps with our support. More detailed data will be released by them in due course once surveys have been completed and we know for sure that we are going to an area,” it added.
Broadband is currently high on the agenda for the government. Its Broadband Delivery UK programme aims to see 95% of homes in the country with access to superfast Internet by 2017.
The government seems to be sparing no expense when it comes to Internet-related projects and recently announced firms can now bid on a £10m pot to help take broadband into remote communities.