The UK taxpayer has secured a good deal out of the ongoing Rural Broadband Programme, BT has claimed.
Bill Murphy, Managing Director of Next-Generation Access at the telecoms giant - which is currently building rural networks across the British countryside - told Real Business there is "a lot of misunderstanding out there" about the cost of the fibre rollout.
Responding to criticism from entrepreneur Henry Williams over his firm's involvement in the project - which is being co-funded by the government, local councils and BT - he claimed the broadband provider is bearing significant financial risk.
"People who say the taxpayer hasn’t got a good deal can’t have seen the contracts we signed. The fact that other companies walked away from the process should tell them something," Mr Murphy stated.
He claimed BT "was willing to accept terms that others wouldn’t", due to its belief that fibre services are essential for the communities it serves.
"Our investment will take well over a decade to pay off, and various contractual clauses ensure we’re bearing most of the financial risk," Mr Murphy added.
He explained that if BT delivers a local project under-budget, the savings are reinvested to extend coverage further or boost speeds.
"Similarly, if take-up beats the forecasts, more funds will be released to help boost coverage or speeds," Mr Murphy added.
He noted that, once each project is complete, this ‘claw-back’ mechanism applies for at least seven years.
As such, if fibre broadband proves popular, communities and the taxpayer will carry on reaping the benefits for a number of years.
"We’re confident these clauses will kick-in as take-up increases. In fact it’s already happened in Cornwall, where we’ve been able to reinvest and extend the footprint from 80 to 95 per cent," Mr Murphy said.
He added that everywhere BT takes fibre it brings an open network, offering access to multiple broadband providers in order to ensure competition and keep prices low.
"So when it comes to broadband, we believe we’re doing everything we can to safeguard Britain’s economic success," Mr Murphy claimed.