Government Pledges £250m For Almost Total Superfast Broadband Coverage By 2018

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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Danny Alexander, chief secretary to the Treasury, outlines new 99 percent government target, but it is unclear how the money will be distributed

The government has pledged another £250 million in public funding to ensure that superfast broadband reaches 95 percent of the UK population by 2017 and 99 percent by 2018 – three years after its original target of ensuring the country has 90 percent coverage by 2015.

The commitment was made in a speech by Danny Alexander, chief secretary to the Treasury, who said that the government would work closely with the industry to provide connectivity, either through fixed, wireless or 4G technologies.

It is unclear how the money will be spent or if it will be used as part of the Broadband Delivery UK initiative, which aims to assist with the rollout of fibre in areas where it is not commercially viable to do so.

Superfast broadband funding

“In the twenty-first century good communications are not just about faster roads and high speed railways,” said Alexander. “This government has already committed to a £1.2 billion programme of public investment in fixed superfast broadband.

Danny Alexander“I’ve seen first-hand the impact that our investment is making in smaller, rural communities.

“It’s absolutely crucial, if we want to rebalance our economy that it’s not just the biggest cities that have access to the fastest broadband.”

Alexander also reiterated the government’s belief that the UK already had the best coverage when compared to Europe’s leading economies. “Now the UK already has better broadband coverage, usage, and choice than Germany, Italy, France and Spain,” said the secretary to the Treasury.

The government has made £530 million available as part of BDUK, but it has emerged that just £3 million of this funding has made its way to only two local authorities, and the Department of Culture Media and Sport is understood to be considering an overhaul of the scheme.

Yesterday, Chancellor George Osborne pledged to continue spending more money on the UK’s broadband infrastructure in his Spending Review. However most of the £200 billion of capital guaranteed to be used until the end of the decade is expected to be spent on transport, not broadband.

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