Government claims ‘superfast’ broadband plan is 'on track' after reaching one million homes and businesses in UK

By Sooraj Shah
08 Aug 2014 View Comments
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The government has claimed that its rollout of what it deems "superfast" broadband has reached more than one million homes and businesses across the UK.

The £1.7bn rollout is "firmly on track" according to the UK's culture secretary, Sajid Javid, meaning that 95 per cent of UK homes and businesses will get access to superfast broadband by 2017.

Superfast broadband is defined by the EU and the UK as speeds of 24Mbps or more, and defined by Ofcom as broadband that is capable of speeds of 30Mbps or more.

Javid believes access to faster broadband for businesses has "boosted profits through increased sales, reduced overheads and [allowed] access into markets abroad for the first time".

But while the vast majority of the country may be "on track", the remaining five per cent, mainly rural areas, are to only gain access to broadband with a minimum speed of 2Mbps.

The government had announced a further £250m of funding, which would be locally matched, to support increased coverage of superfast broadband to 95 per cent of premises in the UK by the end of 2017.

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) then set up an additional £10m competitive fund to test innovative solutions to deliver superfast services to as many of the unserved, hard-to-reach areas of the UK as possible.

But despite these moves by the government it has been criticised for not being ambitious enough, particularly as other countries such as Finland and South Korea want to ensure that their average broadband speed for consumers and enterprises is 100Mbps and 1Gbps respectively, leaving the UK trailing woefully behind.

Last month, the Federation of Small Businesses released a report that called the UK government's plans "not sufficiently ambitious", fearing that there are little "future-proofed" infrastructure plans for the medium and long term.

It urged the government to aim for 100 per cent coverage of 10Mbps by 2018-19 - rather than 95 per cent coverage at 24Mbps by 2017. This, it argues, would provide a "service level floor" for the entire country, on to which further progress can be built.

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