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The government is encouraging local councils to put their BDUK rollout plans to one side, if a "commercially funded deployment" without public intervention emerges in areas contracted under the scheme.

In the Department for Culture, Media and Sport's (DCMS's) Broadband Delivery UK guidance, the coalition sets out a number of recommendations designed to encourage councils to release better broadband coverage maps and data, and clarify the approach for alternative projects.

The updated guidance is part of a wider government response to the findings of the Public Accounts Committee's (PAC's) report earlier this year, which accused BT and several local authorities of failing to publish adequate coverage maps and data down to a 7-digit postcode level.

Although the PAC's latest report indicates that some problems remain, the governmental guidance suggests that authorities need to consider the overall aims of each project, particularly when it comes to commercial involvement.

The guidance states: "It is also possible that a commercially funded deployment without public intervention emerges in areas contracted under the BDUK scheme. DCMS's view is that as a matter of general principle – and subject to value for money considerations – BDUK funding should make way for viable commercial investments in the same areas."

When deciding how to proceed in any individual circumstance, the government advises local bodies to perform an appropriate level of due diligence to assess the viability of such deployment, end-user benefits, and any financial impact of a change in plans.

The guidance also recommends that local bodies advise community groups and potential suppliers on the availability of any coverage maps and respond to "reasonable requests" for guidance as to whether specific areas are within the areas scheduled for coverage.

"Taking this approach will enable other parties to develop proposals for projects in areas which are not currently scheduled for coverage with BDUK support," it states.

According to the government, it will continue to update the guidance, where required, to ensure that providers and customers alike are kept fully informed about new developments and if and when they can expect superfast broadband access in their area.

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