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The UK government’s rollout of superfast broadband has now reached more than 1 million homes and businesses across the UK.
The £1.7 billion nationwide rollout is firmly on track to extend superfast broadband to 95 per cent of UK homes and businesses by 2017. The rate at which the fibre technology is being rolled out under the programme is rapidly accelerating, with up to 40,000 premises gaining access every week.
The UK-wide rollout is a key part of the government’s long-term economic plan to secure Britain’s future by providing access to superfast broadband in areas the private sector would not otherwise have reached. The current rural programme will deliver returns of £20 for every £1 invested, representing tremendous value for money.
According to the government, faster broadband will not only improve profits for UK businesses, but will create an additional 56,000 jobs in the UK by 2024.The work involved in the current roll out is expected to provide a £1.5 billion boost to local economies. By 2024, the government’s current investments in faster broadband will be boosting rural economies by £275 million every month, or around £9 million every day.
The government notes that current UK coverage of superfast broadband is the highest of the top five European economies, with the UK also leading its European counterparts in terms of take-up, competitiveness and pricing. But the government recognises that there is still more to do.
Current plans will ensure superfast speeds for 95 per cent of the UK, but the government firmly believes that its transformation of the digital landscape should reach every area of the UK.
Focus is now on the ‘final 5 per cent’ – those areas in the most remote and hardest to reach places in the UK that are not covered by existing plans. £10 million has been invested in a series of pilot projects currently under way in eight locations across the nation to investigate the best way of tackling these areas. The findings will be used to inform future funding bids to ensure everyone benefits from the transformation of the digital landscape currently underway.
Culture Secretary Sajid Javid said that more than a million homes and businesses had now benefited as a result of the government’s investment in superfast broadband. “It is totally transforming the way we live and work. You can download feature length films faster, chatting online with family and friends around the world using VoIP is more reliable and households can go online simultaneously without the connection slowing down or dropping out. For businesses, superfast speeds are boosting profits through increased sales, reduced overheads and accessing markets abroad for the first time.
Gavin Patterson, Chief Executive Officer, BT, said: “Getting fibre to rural areas is hard, and often complex, work but we are making great progress. Our engineers are busy, from Hampshire to the Highlands, connecting homes and businesses whatever the challenge. We are laying undersea cables to the Outer Hebrides, reaching remote villages in Wales and transforming rural areas across England. BT has brought technical expertise to the table as well as hundreds of millions of pounds. Some of the early projects are close to completion and further funds will be released if we come in under budget or take-up exceeds expectations.”
Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss said: “Today’s milestone shows just how far we’ve come in bringing faster, more reliable broadband to communities across the country. Thanks to our funding, we’re helping bridge the gap between urban and rural areas, enabling some of our most isolated businesses and communities to grow and thrive. This investment will make a real difference to the rural economy, changing the way that businesses and consumers can use the internet and securing a better future for Britain.”