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Government's superfast broadband rollout reaches 3 million homes

Wednesday, August 12th 2015 by Ellen Branagh

The government’s superfast broadband rollout has now reached more than 3m UK homes and businesses, according to official figures published today.

The rollout, which aims to deliver internet speeds of 24Mbps or faster to those properties not covered by existing commercial networks, is on track to take superfast access to 95% of the UK by 2017, the government said.

Announcing the figures, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said more than four out of five UK homes and businesses already have access to superfast speeds, and that the rollout is reaching an additional 40,000 premises each week.

The figures come after BT recently announced that it will make up to £129m available to local authorities to reinvest in superfast broadband projects.

The extra cash is the result of a clause in the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) contracts that says if take-up is better than BT’s original business case of 20%, the funding it has received should be returned or reinvested into further coverage.

The higher take-up rate to date has prompted BT to make a new business case assuming a take-up rate of 30%.

Culture secretary John Whittingdale said: “Reaching 3m properties is a huge achievement.

“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.

“It's fantastic to see that the rollout of superfast broadband is now delivering for customers and for the taxpayer.

'Most remote'

“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.”

Today’s figures give the number of homes and businesses reached by fibre as part of BDUK (Broadband Delivery UK) projects as at 31 July.

The largest number of premises reached was 531,093 in the South East of England, followed by Wales with 482,000.

In Scotland 394,177 homes and businesses were reached by fibre as part of the government rollout, with 391,095 reached in the East of England, 384,667 in the North West, and 338,709 in the East Midlands.

311,758 premises were reached in the South West of England, followed by 295,235 in Yorkshire and the Humber, 220,604 in the West Midlands and 124,249 in the North East.

And in Northern Ireland, 41,652 homes and businesses were reached.

Gavin Patterson, CEO of BT Group, said: “The UK is making great progress with fibre broadband.

“23m premises are covered by BT’s open access network, with 3m of those enabled under the BDUK programme.

“Our Openreach engineers have worked tirelessly to connect some of the most remote parts of the UK, from the Shetlands and Hebrides to the moors of southwest England.

“The public have responded by taking up fibre in large numbers, and that’s good news for those areas that haven’t been reached yet.

“It means additional funds are being released which will enable us to go even further at no extra cost to the taxpayer and earlier than expected.”

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