BT Wins Another BDUK Race With North Yorkshire Contract

BT has secured another Broadband Development UK (BDUK) contract, but unlike other deals, this one can start immediately as North Yorkshire’s county council has already gained state aid approval from Brussels.

The British telecoms giant has won all of the BDUK money handed out by local councils thus far,  including Lancashire and Rutland, but any move to actually light up fibre  has been stalled thanks to an investigation by  the European Commission.

The European Commission confirmed to TechWeekEurope last week it had opened an investigation into BDUK, after concerns were raised the process was not competitive enough, as many could not offer what giants such as BT and Fujitsu could without more government assistance.

Andrew Barron, the chief operating officer of Virgin Media, complained in May that the government was effectively subsidising BT via the BDUK process. Yet in June,  BT and Fujitsu signed a Framework Agreement with the government, designed to offer councils a quick way of getting through the procurement process, but only allowing them to hand contracts to those two vendors. If councils want to use other providers, they have to set up their own procurement process and hope the government will back it with BDUK funds.

North Yorkshire County Council told TechWeekEurope it had no issues from Brussels as it had gained state aid approval before the EC had started scrutinising BDUK, the government-backed fund which will pump £530 million into local authorities so they can take superfast broadband into remote areas.

Superlative speeds

BT said the project will see 90 per cent of North Yorkshire homes and businesses, amounting to some 365,000 premises, able to access broadband speeds of up to 80Mbps by the end of 2014. Ultra-fast speeds of up to 330Mbps will also be available in some areas where Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) will be deployed. The final 10 percent will also see some uplift and should get at least up to 2Mbps.

The council is taking advantage of its £17.8 million share of BDUK funds for the project, as well as another £10 million from BT. The ISP said it had already spent around £23 million on deploying fibre broadband in North Yorkshire and expects to add another £11 million to that soon.

“BT will be delighted to get our contract, as it gives them something to do,” said John Moore, corporate director for finance and central services at North Yorkshire County Council. “The view we have taken is a pragmatic one… if we didn’t use someone like BT or Fujitsu, it wasn’t ever going to happen.

“We’ve been trying to do something like this for 10 years. We found getting our state aid tedious, but we got it.” Moore said he did not think those councils applying for state aid approval from the EC now would have much chance, now that the body is properly investigating the process. “I think the system has probably caught up with them,” he added. “Trying to get state aid now is probably going to be quite difficult.”

The process in North Yorkshire took two years, until the competition was whittled down to BT and Fujitsu. A number of other tech giants showed interest in the contract, including Thales and Cable and Wireless, the council confirmed.

BT was chosen largely because it was able to offer better coverage than Fujitsu, according to Moore.

“We said to the companies ‘there is a map of North Yorkshire, this is how much money we have to spend, how much can you cover?'” Moore said. “Some of the numbers may not sound impressive by central London standards… but to get 20Mbps or above is a massive leap forward.”

A planning process will now take place to decide which parts of North Yorkshire will be hooked up to fibre connections. This will take around three months and Moore believes BT will start installing the infrastructure in October, with customers in the initial areas signing up by November. Most of the contract will be done by 2014, he claimed.

“It’s an ambitious project which will bring huge benefits to homes and businesses across the county,” said communications minister Ed Vaizey.

BT is also expected to win another BDUK contract in Cumbria, as the only competing bidder, Fujitsu, pulled out. However, the council said it would go back to the drawing board if BT could not deliver what Cumbria needed.

Are you fluent in the language of the Internet? Find out with our quiz!

Thomas Brewster @iblametom

Tom Brewster is TechWeek Europe's Security Correspondent. He has also been named BT Information Security Journalist of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

View Comments

  • Lets get real about this, the headline "BT Wins Another BDUK Race With North Yorkshire Contract" suggests this has been a competition !

    With BDUK there is only one game in town Openreach. They own the infrastructure and it so happens they are a BT group company, so it doesn't take a rocket scientist to come to the conclusion that using public money to help fund a parallel network ie the Fujitsu route in competition to the incumbent, wont work, doesnt make commercial or technical sense what ever way you look at it... "BT was chosen largely because it was able to offer better coverage than Fujitsu", according to Moore - you dont say!. Which organisations actually have an infrastructure in North Yorkshire, with the money available who could deliver what is required - Openreach will alway be the outcome, not only in North Yorkshire but in 90% of the UK outwith the other cunsumer focused carriers ie Virgin Media. So please dont let us all get caught up in the PR and political points scoring that surrounds BDUK. Find a way to avoid the public purse paying BT group twice for the priviledge Openreach and whatever arm of BT fronts these deals and ensure the Government get on with the those individuals involved in awarding spending this money in awarding to Openreach and ensuring the money is spent in the right way to the benefit of the UK as a whole.

Recent Posts

Public Charging Stations Can Steal Data, Warn Officials

'Juice jacking' criminals are exploiting USB charging stations at airports, hotels and shopping centres to install malware

3 days ago

Free Broadband For All, As Labour Pledges BT Nationalisation

Labour says it will nationalise BT's fixed-line network, but PM says the it is a 'crackpot' idea, and TechUK says…

3 days ago

Amazon Challenges Pentagon Over JEDI Cloud Contract

Political bias? AWS files intention to appeal DoD's decision to give major cloud contract to Microsoft

3 days ago

Apple Worker Texts Himself Customer’s Intimate Photo

Naked selfie warning, as Californian woman says she will take legal action against former Apple staffer

4 days ago

Smartphone App Can Quickly Locate Drone Pilots

Smartphone app can “remotely identify airborne drones” as well as pinpointing the location of its pilot

4 days ago

Google Readies Bank Accounts For US Customers

Search engine giant is planning a banking move, in a development that is sure to trigger regulatory investigations

4 days ago