The government’s superfast broadband rollout has reached over one million homes and businesses, culture secretary Sajid Javid announced today.
Its £1.7 billion UK-wide project aims to ensure superfast broadband is available to 95 percent of homes and businesses in the UK by 2017.
The Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) said the number of premises gaining access to fibre optic broadband is rapidly accelerating, with approximately 40,000 more premises gaining access to superfast speeds of up to 76 Mb every week.
The rural broadband scheme will deliver returns of £20 for every £1 invested, according to government estimates. DCMS expects faster broadband to create a further 56,000 jobs in the UK and boost rural economies by £275 million every month by 2024.
The UK leads Europe in terms of superfast broadband coverage, and also has the biggest level of take-up, competitiveness and pricing, the government said.
However, it added that there is more to do, especially regarding the ‘final five percent’ of areas in the remotest and hardest to reach areas of the UK that are not covered by the current plans.
To that end the government announced plans to invest £10 million to run a series of pilot projects in hard-to-reach locations in January. Eight pilots are now underway to investigate the best way to tackle provision to these sorts of areas.
However the organisation responsible for the programme, an agent body of DCMS called Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), has come in for criticism for being slow, bureaucratic and failing to deliver value for money.
Critics have also highlighted the fact that all the money available under the initiative has been allocated to BT. In a report in April the Public Accounts Committee said that the government had "failed to deliver" meaningful competition, effectively leaving BT in a monopoly position.
Culture secretary Sajid Javid said superfast broadband is “totally transforming the way we live and work".
“You can download feature length films faster, chatting online with family and friends around the world using VoIP is more reliable and households can go online simultaneously without the connection slowing down or dropping out," he said.
“For businesses, superfast speeds are boosting profits through increased sales, reduced overheads and accessing markets abroad for the first time.”