The media picked up a story about Virgin’s CEO, Neil Berkett, suggesting that the BDUK process would lead to a lack of competition in rural areas. For example here in ISP Review.

I’m also more than a bit concerned about the lack of infrastructure competition in rural areas but the one thing I hadn’t noticed was Virgin investing there.

In fact I’d have to say the only major organisation that has invested in rural broadband is BT. When LLU was launched, ISPs rushed to install their equipment in the same urban exchanges, creating an abundance of competition for 50% of the country and almost exactly zero competition for the rural half. What investment there has been, beyond BT, has come from small, nimble companies like Rutland Telecom – certinaly not from people like Virgin.

The slow speeds and lack of investment in rural areas is an industry-wide issue which Virgin, along with all the other infrastructure owning ISPs could help to fix.

That BDUK created a framework actually means these other companies stand a better chance of securing Government cash than had they needed to enter a full-scale competition for each county – something I suspect BT was alone in being able to fund.

In fact, the BDUK framwork benefits few companies other than major companies like Virgin – its certainly a major blow to the smaller experienced companies, and I’m sure BT would prefer it didn’t exist.

But then this industry is one with a logic of its own.

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