Superfast broadband has now reached 19 out of 20 residential and business premises in the UK – a milestone in the government’s national broadband scheme. Although 95.1% of the nation’s homes and companies can connect to an internet provider running at 24 Mbps download speed, London lags far behind.
Research published by thinkbroadband, a for-profit news site, reveals that while the government has finally met a key tenet of its £1.7bn Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) project, the 95% figure is not consistent across all areas of Britain.
Embarrassingly, just 50.3% of City of London homes and businesses can link up to a superfast network. With its density of commercial sites, the City holds the title of the area with the poorest access to superfast broadband. When extended to the Cities of London and Westminster, the area coverage jumps up to 68.7% – well under three-quarters of premises.
Joining the capital in the broadband slow lane are Orkney Islands (66.8%), Western Isles (71%) and Kingston Upon Hull (71.7%).
On Monday, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) reported it had, in December, delivered on its manifesto commitment to extend superfast broadband to 95% of the UK by the end of 2017. As part of this, a total of 4.5 million premises deemed “not commercially viable” by industry have benefitted.
Last year, the government, in partnership with Openreach, extended speedier broadband coverage to around 800,000 homes and businesses.
“We have come a long way in a short space of time, with one of the fastest broadband deployments in the world” said Clive Selley, CEO, Openreach. “We’re determined to get Britain – the whole of Britain – hooked up to decent broadband speeds.”
In addition to creating 50,000 new UK jobs, the government estimates BDUK has generated an additional £8.9bn in turnover between 2013 and 2016.
Of all homes and businesses in the UK, 53.5% currently enjoy ultrafast broadband: over 100 Mbps according to the newly-published figures. However, the report also highlighted that 96.7% have access to high speed broadband (over 15 Mbps).
“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” said DCMS Secretary of State, Matt Hancock.
“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.”
To date, BT has set aside £477 million to extend coverage over the full lifetime of the contracts – up from £292 million in December 2016 – in nations and regions around the UK. The government said that a maximum of £687m will be made available to local authorities to further extend broadband speeds.