Saturday, 09 September 2017 19:40

£645m to help speed up rural broadband

Written by  Ruralcity Media
£645m to help speed up rural broadband

The government says up to £645m will help bring superfast broadband to the UK's most remote areas.

Digital minister Matt Hancock said more than 900,000 extra UK homes and businesses could gain access to superfast speeds after the end of this year.

This would take superfast coverage to 98% of the nation over the next few years, he said.

Mr 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."

Money being returned to the broadband programme for reinvestment would help reach the final 5%, said Mr Hancock.

It was all part of the government's commitment to make sure that 100% of the UK could get affordable, fast and reliable broadband by 2020.

The government subsidised rollout has now reached more than 4.5m premises around the UK.

New figures show more than 2m homes and businesses have now signed up for superfast connections in areas where the government has invested in broadband.

A clause in the Government’s contracts requires suppliers to recycle funding when people take up superfast connections installed as part of the programme.

Research shows this take up has been higher than expected.

As a result, major supplier BT has set aside £465 million to extend coverage over the full lifetime of the contracts – up from £292m in December last year – in nations and regions around the UK.

This will be combined with project efficiencies of £180m resulting from successful management and delivery of the programme.

It means up to £645 million will available for local authorities to re-invest and take superfast speeds to those homes and businesses not already covered by existing plans.

Of this, over £200m has already been committed to projects to extend superfast broadband.

Superfast connections of 24Mbps and above allow families to watch TV on multiple devices at the same time, or let children do homework while parents do online banking and shopping.

It also helps small businesses to run websites and buy and sell online.

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