The government has urged local councils to reveal the locations for rural broadband rollout with BT, after the telecoms giant agreed to allow such data to be revealed.
The call was made by culture secretary Maria Miller in a letter to council chiefs. It comes after BT received fierce criticism from the Public Accounts Committee and smaller internet firms for failing to provide this information.
Without it, they said other firms could not proceed with innovative local broadband projects, as they had no ideas where they would face competition from BT under the council-funded project, and therefore ran the risk of being priced out of the market.
Miller said in the letter: “This information will help other broadband providers and community groups determine whether it is worth their while to develop local broadband projects to fill in the gaps in coverage.
"It will also help clarify the position of those community broadband projects whose schemes are already planned in some detail. I am keen to see this information made available."
Miller urged councils to back this up by working to reveal the data as soon as possible.
"I would strongly encourage those of you who have already signed contracts to arrange for the proposed coverage from your project to be published as soon as possible," she said.
BT said it welcomed the chance to have the information published: "We are happy to work with local councils who wish to publish the details of their respective deployment plans. Local councils will decide if and when to publish the outline plans on their website."
The announcement from Miller was welcomed by the wider telecoms industry, with Malcolm Corbett, the chief executive of the Independent Networks Co-operative Association (INCA), callling it "tremendous news".
"We wish to thank Maria Miller and the Public Accounts Committee for getting greater openness into the rural broadband programme," he said.
"Armed with this information local communities, their councils and the private sector can act together to deliver next generation broadband to those who will otherwise wait for many years."
It is not the first time Miller has succeeded in cracking heads together in the telecoms market. She was also involved in meetings that led mobile operators to agree to allow EE to go live with 4G services ahead of rivals, in return for bringing the auctions forward.
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