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Government's BDUK superfast broadband spending reaches £550m

Friday, May 26th 2017 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

The government has now funded the rollout of superfast broadband to the tune of more than £550m, new figures show.

An update on the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme shows that grants to local authorities and budget transfers to devolved administrations added up to £550,832,876 in cash terms.

So far, BDUK has made superfast speeds of at least 24Mbps available to 4,426,493 premises since it started funding local broadband programmes in December 2012.

According to the update from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), that works out at 8,036 premises covered for every £1m spent.

The BDUK rollout has focussed on areas that wouldn’t otherwise be covered by the likes of BT and Virgin Media.

When combined with commercial deployments, the programme aims to take superfast availability to 95% of the UK by the end of this year.

Ofcom, which defines superfast broadband as speeds of 30Mbps and above, said in December that coverage had reached 89% of premises, and had been taken up in 31%.

The regulator also said that around 1.4 million homes and businesses were unable to get 10Mbps – the speed it says is the minimum required to meet a typical household’s digital needs.

The Digital Economy Act 2017, passed last month, includes provision for a Universal Service Obligation (USO) that will give every British household the legal right to 10Mbps.

The USO will be reviewed by Ofcom when the take-up of superfast services reaches 75%.

Connecting remote locations

Earlier this month, Openreach launched a consultation with broadband providers on how to deliver faster speeds to what it said was the 3% of properties without access to 10Mbps.

Its plan to reach a number of those premises centres on a new technology called Long Range VDSL, which increases speeds for homes connected to fibre cabinets via long telephone lines.

Openreach CEO Clive Selley said: “Everyone in Britain should have access to a decent broadband speed – so we support the government’s moves to make that a reality.

“We’ve been working hard to develop faster, affordable ways to connect remote locations and we’ve been pleased with the initial technical field results of our Long Reach VDSL trials, but we need communications providers’ support to make sure their customers can be upgraded and migrated smoothly to this new platform.”

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