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CEO of the Government’s Building Digital UK Team to Leave UPDATE2

Wednesday, Mar 31st, 2021 (12:01 am) - Score 2,440
Raj_Kalia

The CEO of the Government’s (DCMS) key Building Digital UK programme, which oversees everything from the new £5bn Project Gigabit scheme to rural broadband vouchers, Local Full Fibre Networks (LFFN), 700MHz clearance, SRN and the prior £2.5bn Superfast Broadband (SFBB) project, Raj Kalia, has decided to stand down.

Raj took over the role from BDUK’s prior CEO, Christopher Townsend, around 3 years ago. But while Chris largely focused his efforts on developing and evolving the SFBB programme, Raj has primarily helped to develop the Government’s new focus on expanding the next generation of gigabit-capable broadband projects and coverage into rural areas.

NOTE: Raj Kalia has previously held senior (Director level) positions at TalkTalk, Arkal Limited and was the co-founder of YouCloudIT before joining BDUK in January 2018.

The culmination of these efforts recently resulted in the official launch of the new Project Gigabit programme, which aims to help extend 1Gbps (1000Mbps) capable broadband speeds to reach at least 85% of UK premises by the end of 2025 (and getting “as close to 100% as possible“). The new scheme will focus its efforts on tackling the final 20% (c.5-6 million) of rural premises that are often too expensive for commercial providers to resolve.

At the time of writing the Government has not yet made a full public announcement about the change, although ISPreview.co.uk understands that further details may be released later today as part of a new supplier notice. The interim replacement for Raj is said to be exec chair Paul Norris. We understand that Raj may be intending to head back to industry and has not yet accepted a new role.

Raj isn’t the only senior BDUK figure to exit the building. The team’s former Programme Director, Justin Leese, also left the role this month in order to take up the position of Chief Technical Operations Officer (CTOO) at broadband ISP Spectrum Internet (here). It’s all change at the top.

UPDATE 10:39am

We’ve had a statement from the Government.

Oliver Dowden MP, UK Digital Secretary, said:

“Raj has been instrumental in leading preparations for the launch of Project Gigabit and I am grateful for all he’s achieved to support the government’s ambition for fast, reliable broadband for everyone in the UK. I wish him a successful return to the private sector.”

UPDATE 2:23pm

Raj has just issued the following statement via Linkedin.

Raj Kalia, CEO of BDUK, said:

“So almost 2 weeks ago BDUK launched Project Gigabit an in effect fired the starting gun on the programme that will deliver gigabit capable broadband to over 5 million of the hardest to reach homes across the UK. It’s been many months in the planning and will take many years to deliver but balancing pace, coverage and value for money will be at the heart of the endeavour. However, that endeavour will not be led by me!

After just over 3 years, no let me be a bit more precise, 3 exciting and challenging (in the right way) years, I have decided that it’s time for me to step down as CEO and look for my next challenge. I leave with BDUK a very different organisation to the one I joined. From 50 people to 250, from spreadsheets to digitally enabled, completely transformed from an industry engagement perspective, and most importantly set-up to take on the challenges that lie ahead.

Delivering the final 20% will be a marathon and a sprint and one that I will enjoy watching from the sidelines as a very, very interested spectator.

Thanks to all at DCMS and BDUK, I step down as CEO today but stay on to deliver the digital platform till the end of May, then the world is my oyster!”

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Mark-Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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Comments
3 Responses
  1. Avatar photo FFF says:

    BDUK needs someone who can blast through the endless bureaucracy generated by massess of consultants and managers. They need to focus on delivery and work far more effectively with suppliers.

  2. Avatar photo Graham Long says:

    What does Raj Kalia and Justin Leese quiting BDUK within a few weeks of each other in the same month that Dowden announced the first counties to benefit from the £5B Project Gigabit tell you?….. It’s not rocket science ……. and Paul Norris who has driven the various voucher schemes acting as interim CEO gives an indication of where this may all be heading.

  3. Avatar photo Christine conder says:

    It is heading to BT taking the pot and still not delivering to rural areas. Just like the last pot.

Comments are closed

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