A GBP440 million (USD544 million) ‘windfall’ is set to bring superfast broadband to an extra 600,000 premises under the British government’s flagship rollout scheme. According to a press release issued by the Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS), additional funding has been unlocked through a combination of efficiency savings and a clawback mechanism which re-invests money when people take up superfast (24Mbps and above) connections installed under the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) project.
In announcing the extra investment to be made available, the DCMS noted that new figures show around 1.5 million homes and businesses have now taken advantage and signed up for superfast connections in areas where the state has subsidised rollout. As a result, fixed line incumbent BT will release GBP292 million for extra connections, with GBP133 million already allocated to be spent in regions around the UK. In addition, the ministry added that ‘careful contract management’ by the government, local authorities and BT has saved more than GBP150 million across 44 projects as the first phase of rollout draws to a close.
Around 4.5 million premises are now said to have been given access to superfast broadband through the GBP1.7 billion BDUK rollout, with the DCMS claiming that more than 90% of the UK can get a superfast connection, up from 45% in 2010. Culture Secretary Karen Bradley has meanwhile called on customers to sign up for these faster services with a view to unlocking extra funding for more connections, saying: ‘We have made great progress but there is still more to do. Broadband speeds aren’t boosted automatically – it needs people to sign up. Increasing take-up is a win-win-win: consumers get a better service, it encourages providers to invest, and when more people sign up in BDUK areas, money is clawed back to pay for more connections.’