I had a surprise call from the BBC yesterday to discuss broadband with Chris Mann. I was on with Ian bates, the county Council cabinet member.
You can hear it on the BBC radio Cambridgeshire website at 05:35 minutes in until 14:35 on the 26/09/2013 on listen again.
It seems that Margaret Hodge MP, Labour Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, has made some statements about the state of broadband roll out across the country. Frankly, she does not appear to know what she is talking about.
Fancy that, a politician in opposition complaining about the government !!!! Just because they complain doesn’t make them right. In this case she is wrong based on our experiences in Cambridgeshire.
She complains that BT are winning all the competitions. In the same breath she says that if the territories that were being bid for were larger it would be easier for others to bid. We found exactly the opposite. Small companies were struggling to contend with Cambridgeshire let alone anything bigger.
Margaret claims that BT were in some way behaving as if they are a monopoly. We had a number of bidders up to and including the final round. I saw the process and the results and BT won fair and square. What is wrong with that? If they put in the best bid for this sort of worth then they win.
What everyone needs to remember is that this is a massive infrastructure project. It I involves endless miles of fibre laying in sometimes difficult to get at areas, upgrading of a huge number of exchanges and the installation of new road side cabinets.
At the end of the project BT are bound to wholesale the fibre to other internet providers. This is difficult work with a slow return on the investment so it is little wonder not many companies want the work.
One lesson I definitely learnt in politics, if you don’t know what you are talking about, shut up. Free advice to Margaret.