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CEO of the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK Project Bids Farewell

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017 (4:42 pm) - Score 770
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The CEO of the Government’s state aid fuelled Broadband Delivery UK programme, which is working to roll-out “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+) networks to 97% of premises by 2020, Christopher Townsend, has decided to leave in order to take up a position as Commercial Director for Chelsea FC.

Back in 2014 the then coalition Government of Lib Dems and Conservatives decided to address some of the perceived weaknesses of their BDUK project by re-organising around a more commercial focus. As part of that they appointed Christopher Townsend, former Commercial Director of the London 2012 Olympics Organising Committee, to lead the project (see here and here).

It’s difficult to know how much of a difference Chris himself made to BDUK because such details are rarely shared with the outside world and MPs are usually the ones who take credit for any positive changes. Never the less BDUK has certainly become more accepting of alternative network providers over the past 3 years, as opposed to being entirely dominated by BT (Openreach) contracts like it was during Phase One (i.e. the 90% coverage goal).

Chris Townsend said:

“I have enjoyed my three years as CEO of BDUK and it has been an honour and privilege to lead a high-performing team which has achieved outstanding results. I am proud to have been a DCMS Board Director and part of the executive leadership team which has secured an outstanding rise in staff engagement over the last 3 years.

I would like to extend my thanks to the Secretary of State and her Ministerial team for the support given in order to achieve the success of BDUK to date. We are on track to achieve the 95% target by December 2017.”

Karen Bradley MP, Culture Secretary said:

“Chris brought a wealth of experience with him to the DCMS when he joined three years ago, and has overseen a remarkable transformation of the UK’s digital landscape. More than nine out of ten homes and businesses now have access to superfast broadband and we are on track to reach 95 per cent by the end of this year.

I wish Chris all the best for this exciting career move, and thank him for the tremendous contribution he has made to the work of the department.”

We’ve been informed by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) that Chris will continue in his role as CEO of BDUK until the end of April 2017 and will then begin his new role in May 2017. At present no replacement has been lined up to take over from Chris, although the recruitment process will start shortly.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he is also the founder of ISPreview since 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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9 Responses
  1. wireless pacman

    “which has secured an outstanding rise in staff engagement”

    Anyone have an idea of what that means in English? 🙂

    • Steve Jones

      I’m going to guess it means they motivated their staff to do a good job. Some might just say, it’s just another random selection out of the bag of management-speak platitudes.

      “Engaged staff” is normally just a euphemism for a workforce that have at least a passing interest in doing a decent job.

  2. Sledgehammer

    How about he has employed a lot more chiefs and not enough indians?

  3. New_Londoner

    God alone knows what value Chelsea FC believes a civil servant can bring, especially one that hasn’t really delivered anything but just overseen and commented on the efforts of others. A pointless appointment.

    • NGA for all

      Pointless – why? because nobody can deal with BT power? ..because he cannot influence BT’s resource decisions? .. because he cannot increase transparency of BT’s capital contributions? .. because despite £1.7bn of public funding BT can withhold a more complete deployment of FTTP?

      Most of the above matters are still being played out, so the job is more thankless rather than pointless.

      On May 7th (q42015 BTpLc quarterly results transcripts p17) Tony Chanmugam in response to a question on subsidies he said “I don’t expect, from where we are now, this is not a number like hundreds of millions of pounds. If we need to do something it may be tens of millions of pounds.” The slides say -£29m. Two months later (July 2015) it was £129m and as of Dec 2016 it is £325m and will need to double and then converted into a coverage plan fit for the UK economy. But at £45m (gross) a quarter of BDUK activity BT for the most part have no plan but to sit on this money for as long it can.

      This does not diminish the work and effort of the Openreach engineering force and the supply chain but it does question the ambition and motivation of those in BT Group pulling the strings.

      So please explain pointless, thankless I would understand!

    • New_Londoner

      @Mike
      The “pointless” appointment comment was with regards his new role at Chelsea FC – why they feel the need to have a firmer civil servant on their staff is inexplicable. As regards the former role of Chris Townsend, there is little value in any position that basically exits to comment on the activities of other, he certainly deserves no credit for their achievements. If you wish me to use a word to summarise his achievements there, I’d go for clueless rather than pointless.

    • NGA for all

      I will stay out of what is a football matter. Do you support Arsenal or do you pay too much for a season ticket at Chelsea?

    • NGA for all

      New-Londoner – Back on broadband, so how would anyone make a difference to what must be essentially be a resource issue. More FTTP is being demanded and more FTTP in-fill is beginning to be visible and there is the capital deferral to be spent (hopefully)?

      Do BT need to be able to conduct FTTP extensions and get credits against the deferral? How are those funds turned into coverage?

      Do you offer FoX or Fox concept to Local authorities? Or is this out of the question?

      These proposed vouchers new could end up as temporary wireless connections. How is build capacity created? I cannot see the wireless community rushing to do PIA, but the opportunity to aggregate demand on a large scale could be considered.

  4. Personally,

    I believe Chris has done a fantastic job- and an ‘outstanding rise in staff engagement’ for once means exactly what it says on the tin.

    Instead of cynicism, I for one am very grateful for Chris’ achievements in the last three years- and I should know….

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