Superfast broadband is now available to 95 per cent of residential and business premises across the UK, the government has claimed today, which it suggests is up from 29.4 per cent in 2010. Wales has reach the 94 per cent mark, it added.
Most households and businesses can now access broadband connections of more than 24Mbps, the government claims. "We need to get this caveat in very quickly, the 95% target is not a consistent 95% across all communities in the UK," it said.
Areas such as Epsom, Tamworth, Worthing and Watford are pushing into the 99 per cent coverage zone, while the City of London (50.3 per cent), Orkney Islands (66.8 per cent), Western Isles (71 per cent) and Kingston upon Hull (71.7 per cent) all lag behind.
However, the government was keen to push its £1.7 billion in funding for the roll-out of superfast broadband to areas deemed "not commercially viable", which it claims has helped reach more than 4.5 million UK premises that would otherwise still be without half-decent broadband.
"Providing access to reliable, high speed broadband is probably the single most important thing we can do to ensure the sustainability of our rural communities and businesses and as such it is fantastic to hear that Wales has reached 94% for superfast broadband coverage," said Wales minister Stuart Andrew.
He added: "Wales had a much bigger gap to close than England and so it's really positive news that they've made such giant steps in closing the digital divide, particularly given the very challenging topography in Wales."
Clive Selley, CEO of BT's independent infrastructure arm Openreach - which has benefited the most from government funding for broadband roll-outs - described it as "one of the fastest broadband deployments in the world".
He added that Openreach was "determined to get Britain - the whole of Britain - hooked up to decent broadband speeds", adding that the organisation would "be continuing to expand our network to address the remaining ‘not-spots' through a combination of our own commercial programmes and our partnerships with local authorities and communities".
Commenting on the news, Thinkbroadband explained that the rollout consists of a "mixture of commercial and gap-funded solutions". And many projects are beginning to focus on G.fast and fibre to the premises [FTTP] in commercial areas.
The organisation said superfast roll-outs will continue to improve, potentially reaching 100 per cent within the next few years.
"The hope is that roll-outs will eventually deliver superfast to 97 per cent to 98 per cent of premises before 2020, and the focus of a lot of the work in terms of tracking coverage now from ourselves, Ofcom and DCMS will be looking into how likely that looks and how many premises fall into the USO [universal service obligation] category."
However, people in many rural areas will still be disappointed, it added, such as in "places like Hatherden and Wildhern in Hampshire [that] still have no superfast broadband coverage".
It continued: "The biggest concern people have with the coverage statistics is that they know they cannot get superfast broadband due to the distance from the VDSL2 cabinet, but still presume that Openreach has been paid to deliver it to them and thus feel the projects have been wasting money. "
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