More than 4.5 million homes can now use superfast (24Mbps+) broadband, according to a government progress update covering the work to June this year.
The £1.6 billion Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) scheme was launched in 2012, aiming to bring a superfast connection to 95 per cent of the UK by December this year, and basic (2Mbps) broadband to everyone.*
At the end of June, superfast broadband had been extended to 4.55 million UK homes and businesses - approximately 93 per cent of the total, putting the scheme on track to reach its 95 per target this year. 97 per cent of premises could be reached by 2020, with the final three per cent potentially being handled by alternative network providers or the upcoming 10Mbps Universal Service Obligation.
Most BDUK premises are linked to superfast broadband use BT's Openreach fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC), which promises 'up to' 80Mbps, or the 1Gbps fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP). The decision to award BT with many of the initial contracts for the scheme came under fire by the government's Public Accounts Committee, for limiting competition.
The government's figures, which show the investment and coverage of BDUK, demonstrate huge efficiency gains over the past five years. At the end of 2012 only 254 premises had been covered, at a cost of almost £435,000 (equalling 584 per £1 million). Today, 4.55 million homes and businesses can access 24Mbps speeds with a total investment of just under £564 million: 8,072 premises per £1 million spent.
On an accrual basis, which matches costs incurred to the timing of delivery, the above figure is slightly lower: 7,710 premises per £1 million.
Because BDUK is now focusing on more difficult areas to reach, the roll-out has slowed from the 2014/15 peak, when as many as 500,000 homes were being added per quarter; the figure is now 100,000 - 200,000.
* Note: Private operates like Virgin Media had already extended superfast broadband to around 70 per cent of UK premises before BDUK was announced; however, these companies had little incentive to reach the last 30 per cent, which were viewed as not commercially viable.
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