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The Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) fibre rollout is progressing well, according to Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey.

In an interview with, he claimed the outcome of the deployment programme so far has been "pretty good".

The public-funded rollout of fibre broadband came in for some initial criticism, with concerns raised over delayed starts, costs and BT's status as the sole private-sector infrastructure partner.

However, with the BDUK scheme reaching the one million homes milestone ahead of schedule, pressure on the government has eased.

Mr Vaizey told the news provider he is "very proud" of what BT - as the selected infrastructure provider - has achieved so far in delivering super-fast services to thousands of rural communities.

"I take a lot of brickbats for giving the contracts to BT but I have to say, I think the outcome has been pretty good," he stated. "BT has delivered many projects ahead of schedule."

Mr Vaizey said he understands the frustrations of those who have been excluded from the fibre broadband rollout so far.

However he pointed to the scale of the challenge in delivering fibre broadband across the UK countryside.

"The frustrating thing is, broadband is an engineering project and you’re dealing with infrastructure that is quite old and has to be updated." he noted.

"It’s not easy and it’s not something we can deliver overnight."

Mr Vaizey also defended the tender process that saw BT chosen as the infrastructure partner for all 44 local contracts.

He said there were other operators interested in bidding for BDUK projects, but they fell away for one of two reasons.

Rival operators either lacked the capacity to take on the work, or were unprepared to allow wholesale access to their fibre networks, Mr Vaizey explained.

He noted that, under state aid guidelines, if businesses use public money to build a network, they have to accept that rival companies will have access to it.

"I did not come to this saying: 'Let’s give it all to BT'," Mr Vaizey stated.

"I would have welcomed the competition, and I do still think the consortium led by Fujitsu in the early days did help keep BT’s feet to the fire."

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