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Britain to benefit from £645m broadband boost

Monday, September 11th 2017 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

Up to £645m will be made available to help take superfast broadband to the most remote parts of the UK, the government has announced.

Most of the money will come from BT and has been set aside because take-up of superfast services has been better than expected.

A clause in government broadband contracts requires providers to reinvest funds if take-up reaches a certain level.

So far, 38% of homes and businesses in areas reached by the government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) rollout have upgraded to fibre.

This has led to BT, which is delivering the vast majority of local BDUK projects, making £465m available – up from £292m in December last year.

Another £180m has been made available from efficiency savings made during the programme.

The government rollout has reached more than 4.5m UK properties. More than two million households and businesses in those areas have so far signed up to superfast broadband, defined as speeds of at least 24Mbps.

The £645m boost will help take superfast speeds to a further 900,000 properties by the end of this year – and superfast coverage to 98% of the UK in the next few years.

Digital minister Matt Hancock said: “We have now brought superfast broadband to almost 94% of UK homes and businesses, and we are reaching thousands more every week.

“We are on track to reach 95% by the end of the year, but we know there’s still more to do.

“The money that is now being returned to the programme for reinvestment will help us reach that final 5%, and is all part of our commitment to make sure that 100% of the UK can get affordable, fast and reliable broadband by 2020.”

'Smart investments'

Last week, the government announced a £200m pilot scheme to take fibre to the premises (FTTP) broadband to six areas of the UK.

The trial areas are in Aberdeenshire; West Sussex; Coventry and Warwickshire; Bristol, Bath and north east Somerset; West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester.

Hospitals, schools and businesses will be among the first to benefit from gigabit speeds as part of the pilot.

Andrew Jones, the exchequer secretary to the Treasury, said: “For our economy to thrive, it is vital we make smart investments to ensure our digital infrastructure is world class and fit for the future.

“Full fibre connections are the gold standard and we are proud to announce the next step to get Britain better connected.”

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