Up to 600,000 households and businesses will be able to access ‘superfast broadband’ in some of the country’s hardest-to-reach areas, as the government has announced it will use a £442 million windfall to boost services.
The Broadband Delivery UK project was originally planned to provide internet access to 95% of UK premises. With this latest cash injection, the government anticipates that it can now extend this to about 97% of the UK by 2020.
Culture Secretary, Karen Bradley MP, says: “This will benefit around 600,000 extra premises and is a further sign of our commitment to build a country that works for everyone.”
The £442 million fund has come from ‘efficiency savings’ made on the superfast broadband rollout project to date. In addition, £292 million has come from returned subsidies from BT.
These subsidies were used as stimulus for the Broadband Delivery UK project, which saw BT install broadband in areas deemed to be ‘not cost-effective’. In the original deal, the money had to be repaid to the government if a certain percentage of premises bought the offered services – which they did.
All internet providers in the UK use BT’s network to supply broadband barring Virgin Media, which has its own network of cables to provide broadband.
Ewan Taylor Gibson, broadband and TV expert at uSwtich.com, says: "The test, however, will be in how the Government ensures those people who fall into that final 3% of the UK are supported – after all, today’s announcement will be little comfort to those who will still have to wait until 2020 or beyond for any kind of improvement."