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Head of government BDUK project predicts 30% superfast broadband adoption despite 95% availability

Thursday, November 13th 2014 by Hannah Langston

The head of the government’s broadband rollout expects take-up of superfast services to exceed 30% when the £780m project comes a close in 2017. This is despite ensuring that it will be available to 95% of the country.

Speaking to Cable.co.uk about how many people will actually subscribe to fibre broadband, BDUK’s chief executive Chris Townsend (pictured) said: “If we carry on at the rate of increase I expect take up to be beyond the 30% figure across the areas where BDUK has invested money.”

Mr Townsend revealed that 26% of the UK currently subscribe to a fibre broadband package, representing an increase of 20% since 2012. Around 16% have signed up to superfast broadband from a provider that uses the BT Openreach network, such as Sky and TalkTalk.

“I know it’s had a significant impact around the United Kingdom,” he said.

“I’ve seen clear demonstrations of how the superfast programmes can succeed.

“I was up in Durham recently and Superfast Durham has their own particular programme on the ground promoting cabinets that have been upgraded with BDUK money and other bodies’ money."

He also praised the way providers have advertised the new service to customers.

“On top of that BT are promoting it. And other IPs around the UK including TalkTalk and Sky are promoting broadband very effectively.

“That’s why the uptake at the moment is as high as 26% and increasing by the quarter as figures come through,” he added.

Mr Townsend’s comments come as the government announces its rural broadband programme has passed 1.5 million homes.

The project is now laying connections to 40,000 properties a week, “the fastest deployment on a weekly basis in Europe,” according to Mr Townsend.

He attributed its success to the government’s close relationships with BT and local councils.

“We have a much closer working relationship with BT and a very close working relationship with the 44 delivery bodies around the UK,” he said.

“All parties are working together as one team to make sure that we’re achieving the 40,000 a week target that premises are going to need to pass."

The government has set a target of bringing superfast broadband (speeds of 24Mbps and above) to 90% of the UK by 2016.

Its superfast extension programme will extend coverage to 95% by the end of the following year.

[UPDATE: The third paragraph of this story originally said "Mr Townsend revealed that 26% of the UK currently subscribe to a fibre broadband package from BT or providers that share the Openreach network such as Sky and TalkTalk". Following contact from BT that noted that superfast broadband take-up on the Openreach network is at 16% and that Mr Townsend's figure includes other networks' customers, we have acknowledged our mistake and amended the text accordingly.]

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