On 19 January 2022, the Public Accounts Committee led by Dame Meg Hillier MP
published a scathing report that, following an inquiry into the progress of gigabit broadband
networks in the UK, states the Department for Digital, Communications, Media and Sport
(DCMS is relying too heavily on commercial providers to rollout gigabit broadband and that
it is perpetuating the digital divide.
Iqbal Bedi said that he disagrees with the Dame’s findings and that DCMS should
be congratulated. The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is chaired by Dame Meg Hillier MP and its role is to examine the value for money of Government projects, programmes and services.
The inquiry report critiques the Department on many aspects including lacking consistency
in data gathering, for not taking significant action to deliver connectivity to rural areas under
the government’s GBP 5 billion Project Gigabit and for being overly reliant on the
commercial sector to improve gigabit coverage.
All this they say, ‘risks perpetuating digital inequality across the UK’.
Bedi said, “We can’t comment on many of the Department’s data collection methods as we
are just not privy to that information.”
He went onto defend the Department progress by saying, “I do think that the Department
should be congratulated for relying on commercial network operators to roll out gigabit
In his article, the telecoms expert provided three reasons why we should
be more reliant on commercial operators to lead the UK’s gigabit revolution:
The first reason is that governments should only intervene where there is demonstrable
Secondly the article state that the UK’s healthy ecosystem of alternative fibre network
operators is driving full fibre coverage to 80% of premises.
The third reason the article goes onto explain is that government interventions are complex,
time consuming and a drain on public resources.
Bedi said, “a carefully designed ‘market led’ intervention programme can unlock millions in
private investment in digital infrastructure at a significantly faster pace – and deliver greater
value for money – than any public subsidy or government intervention programme.”