The Government Delivers on Superfast Commitment

Matt Hancock

The Government has delivered on its manifesto commitment to extend superfast broadband to 95% of the UK by the end of 2017, DCMS Secretary of State Matt Hancock announced today.

Figures published by www.thinkbroadband.com have confirmed that more than 19 out of 20 UK homes and businesses now have the opportunity to upgrade their internet connections to superfast speeds of 24 Mbps or faster – more than double what Ofcom advise is required by a typical family home.

The £1.7 billion Government rollout of superfast broadband to areas deemed “not commercially viable” by industry has so far reached more than 4.5 million UK premises that would otherwise have been left in the connectivity slow lane, the majority of which are in rural areas. In addition to the huge benefits to our day-to-day lives that superfast speeds offer, this closing of the “digital divide” has also delivered a significant boost to local economies – creating around 50,000 new local jobs and generating an additional £8.9 billion in turnover in the areas covered by the Government rollout between 2013 and 2016.

DCMS Secretary of State, Matt Hancock said. “Over the last 5 years, the Government’s rollout of superfast broadband has made superfast speeds a reality for more than 4.5 million homes and businesses who would otherwise have missed out. We’ve delivered on our commitment to reach 95% of homes and businesses in the UK, but there’s still more to do in our work building a Britain that’s fit for the future. We’re reaching thousands more premises every single week, and the next commitment is to making affordable, reliable, high speed broadband a legal right to everyone by 2020.”

Rachel Neaman, CEO, Corsham Institute, commented, “The UK’s broadband roll-out is having a direct impact on local economies, driving the growth of jobs and creating opportunities in the digital economy. It’s very encouraging to see the government investing in and delivering results in an area which is critical for the country’s future.

However, the digital divide goes beyond access to the internet. We have known for a long time that many people still lack the basic digital skills and support networks to make the most of online opportunities. The pace of tech-driven change is now creating a further challenge if we want everyone, no matter where they live, to work and thrive in our digital world throughout their lives.

We need to see more teaching, training and support for workers, provided by businesses and policymakers. It’s also time for more of a focus on digital education and social media awareness in schools.”

Andrew Ferguson, editor of thinkbroadband.com, says, “It’s great to see the Government has today announced 95 per cent of the UK now has access to superfast broadband. There will of course be those who aren’t celebrating this landmark – the 1.4 million premises who make up the five per cent still struggling with no speed option above 24 Mbps.

“Although rural areas make up a large portion of the five per cent, there are many areas within major cities also struggling with broadband speeds. Ironically, Westminster is one of those areas which finds itself behind the curve, alongside areas of Manchester, Liverpool, Bangor, Glasgow and Belfast. Clearly more needs to be done to ensure no premises are left behind as we continue on the road to a superfast Britain.

“The technology itself isn’t the problem. The parts of the UK with slow broadband speeds need more work to roll-out better services. Those areas must therefore overcome the obstacles of time limitations and installation costs before superfast broadband is available. ‘Generation Rent’ is another challenge the Government needs to overcome as tenants now expect broadband as part of the agreement, which means many landlords select the cheapest option rather than the fastest and can tie tenants to a provider that doesn’t even sell the faster services.”

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine