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BDUK Fibre Rollout Reaches 508,000 Properties

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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BDUK reaches half a million milestone as government-funded initiative accelerates rollout

More than half a million homes and businesses can now receive superfast broadband as a result of the government-funded Broadband Delivery UK initiative.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has revealed that 508,801 properties that would not have been covered by the commercial deployment of fibre have now been added to the Openreach network as a direct result of BDUK.

This excludes households connected by BDUK that receive less than 24Mbps and any premise connected by a BDUK project in an “overspill” area if it could already receive superfast broadband.

BDUK coverage

Virgin Media fibre optic broadband mapThis number is likely to be higher as the figures were not published until last week, but the total will not be known until the next Broadband Performance Indicator, covering until the end of June, is published in July or August.

The DCMS says that local authorities have so far received £58,586,408 from central government, meaning that 8,685 properties have been added for every £1 million spent by BDUK.  By the end of December 2013, 273,731 properties had been added with £14,182,547 released by BDUK, or 19,301 premises added for each £1 million spent.

However the overall cost of connecting each property is significantly higher as local authorities have been required to match BDUK funding pound for pound, while BT and other bodies, such as the European Regional Development (ERDF) have also made contributions.

BDUK is central to the government’s aims of bringing superfast broadband to 98 percent of the UK population by 2018 and earlier this year announced details of a further £250 million to be distributed to local authorities to extend coverage to areas that have still not been covered.

The rollout of fibre by BDUK projects has accelerated over the past 12 months, with just 16,638 properties being connected by the end of March 2013. It is expected that there will be 40,000 new connections being completed each week by this summer.

BT has won all of the government funding available under BDUK, however the initiative has been criticised by MPs who have called on the company and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to be more transparent about planned coverage and costs. It has also been claimed the process has granted BT a virtual monopoly in rural broadband.

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