Three million more UK homes and businesses can now get superfast broadband

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(London Post)  New figures show that the rollout of the government-funded superfast broadband has now reached more than three million homes and businesses

The rollout is delivering superfast access – internet speeds greater than 24 Mbps – to those properties not covered by existing commercial networks and is on track to take superfast access to 95 per cent of the UK by 2017. More than four out of five UK homes and businesses already have access to superfast speeds, and the rollout is currently reaching an additional 40,000 homes and businesses every week.

This comes following recent news that BT will make up to £129m available to extend the Government led rollout of superfast broadband across the UK.

Culture Secretary John Whittingdale said:

Reaching three million properties is a huge achievement. Our rollout of superfast broadband is transforming lives up and down the country as every day thousands more homes and businesses are gaining access to superfast speeds.

It’s fantastic to see that the rollout of superfast broadband is now delivering for customers and for the taxpayer. The levels of people taking up superfast broadband in areas where we invested public money are beyond our expectations, and BT is now reimbursing the public purse to deliver further coverage across the UK. This now means that BT will be providing up to £129m cashback for some of the most hard to reach areas.

The additional funding will be made available to local authorities to reinvest the money in providing further superfast broadband coverage to even more homes and businesses, and much earlier than originally planned. The money is being made available as a result of a clause in the contracts BT agreed with government and local authorities that allows the funding BT has received to be returned or reinvested into further coverage if take-up is better than the 20 per cent expected in BT’s original business case. The higher take up rate to date has resulted in BT making a new business case assumption of reaching 30 per cent take-up in these areas.

The following table sets out the number of homes and businesses reached by the rollout of fibre-optic cable in each geographical area of the UK:

Country / Region Homes and businesses reached by fibre (BDUK projects) as at 31 July 2015
North East 124,299
Yorkshire and the Humber 295,235
North West 384,667
East Midlands 338,709
West Midlands 220,624
South East 531,093
South West 311,758
East of England 391,095
Scotland 394,177
Wales 482,000
Northern Ireland 41,652

Gavin Patterson, CEO BT Group, said:

The UK is making great progress with fibre broadband. Twenty three million premises are covered by BT’s open access network, with three million of those enabled under the BDUK programme. Our Openreach engineers have worked tirelessly to connect some of the most remote parts of the UK, from Shetland and Hebrides to the moors of southwest England.

The public have responded by taking up fibre in large numbers, and that’s good news for those areas that haven’t been reached yet. It means additional funds are being released which will enable us to go even further at no extra cost to the taxpayer and earlier than expected.

Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss said:

Our continuing investment in speedier broadband will unleash the full potential of our countryside – creating jobs, boosting exports and improving the quality of life for people living in rural communities.

By ensuring everyone has access to the same technology and services we can boost the productivity of rural areas, making it as easy to open and expand a business in some of the most beautiful parts of our countryside as it is in our cities.

Homes and businesses can find out more information about going superfast at www.gov.uk/gosuperfast.

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