Government-Funded Superfast Broadband Rollout Reaches 300,000 Premises

The number of premises which can now access superfast broadband as the direct result of government funded initiatives is likely to be above 300,000, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has claimed.

The DCMS says the number of confirmed connections increased from 111,968 at the end of September to 273,731 at the end of December, and that based on past performance and statistics, it is likely that the figure is now higher. The government celebrated reaching the 200,000 milestone in December as part of ‘super switch on day’.

It says the £1.2 billion programme to extend superfast broadband coverage to 95 percent of the UK population by 2017 is “on track” and that the number of new properties being added each week would rise from 10,000 to 40,000 by the summer.

BDUK connections

“These figures prove that there is now a real momentum with thousands of homes and businesses now getting access each week,” boasts culture secretary Maria Miller. “This is part of our long term economic plan and broadband will be instrumental in driving growth and boosting local economies throughout the UK.”

The government has pledged £530 million as part of the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme, as well as £150 million to provide superfast broadband in 22 cities as part of the watered-down “super connected cities” vision and £150 million as part of the Mobile Infrastructure Project (MIP), which aims to improve mobile coverage in rural areas.

An additional £250 million has also been allocated to extend superfast broadband coverage to areas not covered by commercial rollouts or BDUK through ‘alternative’ technologies such as 4G. The government recently announced a £10 million trial of such methods, and the DCMS says details of how local authorities can receive some of the additional funding will be released “shortly.”

The government is keen to get mobile operators on board for the next stage of the rollout, possibly to address a number of criticisms aimed at BDUK, not least that all the available money under the initiative has been allocated to BT and that it has been focussed exclusively on fixed line connections.

The government’s ultimate target is to extend superfast broadband coverage to 98 percent of the UK population by 2018 as a result of the commercial and publicly-funded rollouts.

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Steve McCaskill

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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