DCMS hails success of superfast broadband rollout

12 Aug 15

A government-backed scheme to roll out superfast broadband to rural parts of the country has now reached three million extra homes and businesses, according to figures published today.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport said the expansion of superfast broadband was on course top reach its accessibility target of 95% of all homes and businesses 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, culture secretary John Whittingdale said.

It was also announced today that BT, which is delivering the £1.2bn project, would return £129m worth of payments under the contract. This is the result of a clause agreed with the firm to return some payments if take-up by customers was better than the 20% expected in BT’s original business case.

“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,” Whittingdale said.

“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.”

Environment secretary Elizabeth Truss added the programme would help unleash the full potential of the countryside.

“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,” she stated.

Responding to the figures, the County Councils Network spokesman said that the rollout of superfast broadband was vital to connecting more rural communities and will have a major impact on local people and businesses, such as supporting economic growth.

“Counties have shown their commitment to ensuring people in all parts of the country have access to better broadband and have offered significant investment and support to providers as they continue the broadband rollout. As a result, since the start of the rollout, counties have reported significant improvements to broadband access and speed in their local areas," he added.

“Councils have faced challenges due to the logistics of the project, but have worked closely with providers and central government to overcome these. To ensure the project can continue successfully and reach the most isolated parts of the country, the government must ensure that adequate funding is available and give councils, who best understand the needs of their residents, more say over how this is delivered in their local areas.”

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