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BT's 'near monopoly' of rural broadband attacked by MPs

The government's £1.2bn rural superfast broadband scheme has been mismanaged and has left sole provider BT in a "quasi monopolistic position", the chairwoman of the Commons spending watchdog has said.

Margaret Hodge, Public Accounts Committee Chair, has criticised the government's handling of its rural broadband programme. Credit: PA

Margaret Hodge, Public Accounts Committee Chair, said: "Overall, BT is supposed to provide at least 90% coverage in rural areas but it is preventing local authorities from publishing proper information on the areas the company will and will not cover.

"Details of speed and coverage in each local project are also being kept confidential, preventing other suppliers from developing schemes aimed at reaching the remaining 10% of premises and stopping communities and others from identifying alternative ways of providing superfast broadband."

Broadband speeds leave many in the slow lane

A pupil types on a computer keyboard. Credit: Dave Thompson/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Britain faces dramatic variations in broadband speed within cities, according to a new report, with Birmingham home to the biggest gap between fast and slow.

A study by uSwitch.com found that many consumers are also left in the slow lane in London, Bristol, Northampton and Glasgow.

The difference between fastest and slowest broadband speeds in Birmingham is 89%, while London’s slowest postcode district is EC2Y, which covers Barbican.

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Sale of 4G airwaves falls short of government target

Telecoms regulator Ofcom said its auction of 4G airwaves raised £2.3 billion, well below the government’s £3.5 billion target.

The Chancellor George Osborne had mentioned the projected income as part of his claim in the Autumn Statement that borrowing could be reduced.

ITV News Consumer Editor Chris Choi reports:

Institute of Directors: 4G auction result 'good news'

The Chancellor will be disappointed with the amount raised by the auction, but it is good news that we can now get on with implementing 4G.

Consumers will benefit from the good number of competitors in the 4G market, and we must now encourage investment to get the necessary infrastructure put in place nationally.

– Corin Taylor, Senior Economic Adviser to the Institute of Directors

Telecoms expert: 'Vital 4G prices remain affordable'

The results of the 4G auction are a game changer for the mobile industry and consumers alike.

The combination of spectrum just sold off should bring faster speeds, greater consistency and improved coverage.

While George Osborne won't be too impressed with the amount raised by the auction, it has clearly been expensive for some providers. What is important is that this extra expense isn't passed onto customers - especially in the form of tariff price rises.

While some providers claim not to be imposing a premium for 4G, it's vital that prices remain affordable for those unwilling - or unable - to make the big switch."

– Ernest Doku, telecoms expert at uSwitch.com

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Labour: Missed 4G target 'another blow' to Osborne

Labour said the government raising £2.3 billion in the 4G auction instead of the £3.5 billion that was budgeted was a "blow" to George Osborne's economic plan.

This is yet another blow to George Osborne’s failing economic plan.

It shows how foolish and short-termist the Chancellor was to bank this cash in the autumn statement to make his borrowing figures look less bad.

He couldn’t bring himself to admit that borrowing was up so far this year but his trickery has now badly backfired.

– Rachel Reeves MP, Labour’s shadow chief secretary to the Treasury

Maria Miller: 4G 'a significant economic boost to UK'

Today's announcement will deliver a significant economic boost to the UK. Spectrum use is worth more than £50 billion to the UK economy and 4G mobile broadband is a key part of our digital growth strategy so, I am delighted the auction has been completed.

We worked hard through the autumn to make sure that the operators would be able to use this spectrum 6 months earlier than expected. The benefits will been seen in the UK from the summer onwards as mobile operators deliver competitive high speed mobile broadband services.

– Maria Miller, Culture Secretary

Your thoughts on the 4G service

Our Business Editor Laura Kuenssberg asked her Twitter followers who use 4G what they thought of the service, here are a few of the responses:

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