£440m broadband boost for UK

A £440 million (€521m) windfall will help up to 600,000 extra homes and businesses get superfast broadband under the UK Government’s flagship rollout scheme.

Funding has been unlocked to give more properties in the hardest-to-reach parts of the UK the quick and reliable internet connections which are a vital part of modern life.

The cash boost is a combination of efficiency savings and a clawback mechanism which re-invests money when people take up superfast connections installed by the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) project.

New figures show around 1.5 million homes and businesses have now taken advantage and signed up for superfast connections in areas where Government has subsidised rollout. As a result, dominant telco BT will be releasing £292 million for extra connections – with £133 million already allocated to be spent in regions around the UK.

Careful contract management by the Government, local authorities and BT has also saved more than £150 million across 44 projects as the first phase of rollout draws to a close.

It means a total of £442 million can now be reinvested in taking superfast speeds to some of the most remote parts of the country.

“Our Broadband Delivery UK programme is giving families and businesses in hard-to-reach areas the fast and reliable internet connections which are increasingly at the heart of modern life,” said Culture Secretary Karen Bradley. “Strong take-up and robust value-for-money measures mean £440 million will be available for reinvestment where it matters – putting more connections in the ground. This will benefit around 600,000 extra premises and is a further sign of our commitment to build a country that works for everyone.”

Superfast speeds (measured at 24Mbps) allow families to watch TV on multiple devices at the same time, or let children do homework while parents do online banking and shopping. The technology is ideal for most businesses too, allowing bosses to run websites and buy and sell online, and is expected to carry on meeting these needs for years to come.

Around 4.5million premises have been given access to superfast broadband through the Government’s £1.7 billion BDUK rollout, with more than 1.5 million signing up for a faster connection. It means more than 90 per cent of the UK can now get superfast broadband – up from 45 per cent in 2010.

Bradley is encouraging more people to sign up to unlock extra funding for more connections. “We have made great progress but there is still more to do. Broadband speeds aren’t boosted automatically – it needs people to sign up. Increasing take-up is a win-win-win: consumers get a better service, it encourages providers to invest, and when more people sign up in BDUK areas, money is clawed back to pay for more connections,” she advised.

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