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The UK Government has welcomed BT’s news that the telco will make up to £129 million (€183m) available to extend the Government led roll-out of superfast broadband.
The 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 governments 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 high 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.
“It’s fantastic to see that the roll-out of superfast broadband is delivering for customers and for the taxpayer,” said John Whittingdale, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. “The Government was clear from the start that as levels of people taking up superfast broadband went beyond our expectations in areas where we invested public money, BT would reimburse the taxpayer for reinvesting into further coverage across the UK. This now means that BT will be providing up to £129 million cashback for some of the most hard to reach areas,” he advised. “Our £1.7 billion superfast broadband programme is on track to reach at least 95 per cent of the UK by 2017, and it is great to see homes and businesses making the most of everything that superfast speeds have to offer.”
“Seven years ago, in the depths of recession, we embarked on our multi-billion pound fibre investment to bring faster broadband speeds to the UK,” said Gavin Patterson, CEO of BT, who noted that BT’s fibre network is accessible to more than 23 million premises. “Four out of five UK homes and businesses can access it and 4.6 million are now connected. We’ve hit our original take-up assumption and have rolled out ahead of target and on budget. This is a real success story for the UK,” he declared.
“We are delighted to be able to share that success by making up to £129 million available to extend the roll-out to more BDUK homes and businesses, earlier than planned and at no extra cost to the taxpayer. BT will work with local bodies over the coming months to identify where these funds can be provided early to enable the local bodies to invest in increased fibre coverage sooner than would previously have been the case,” he confirmed.