The government has announced 95% of homes and businesses in the UK now have access to superfast broadband.
The news means the government has hit its self-imposed target to provide access to broadband speeds of 24 Mbps or more for 19 out of every 20 homes and business premises in the UK.
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Matt Hancock, secretary of state for the Department of Culture Media and Sport, said over the last five years, the roll-out of superfast broadband reached more than 4.5 million homes and businesses that would have otherwise missed out.
But the roll-out will not end there. He said the next government commitment is to making affordable, reliable, high-speed broadband a legal right to everyone by 2020.
“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 Hancock.
The government claimed the benefits are already improving the local economies of areas previously not covered by superfast broadband. It said the closing of the digital divide has created around 50,000 new local jobs and generated an additional £8.9bn in turnover in the areas covered between 2013 and 2016.
In 2017, Openreach, the organisation rolling out superfast broadband for government, reached 800,000 homes and businesses through the UK Government Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme alongside commercial delivery. BDUK, the government-owned programme that aims to deliver a 24Mbps broadband service to parts of the UK left out of the commercial roll-out.
Between 2009 and 2017, about 9,300 Openreach staff, including 5,600 field engineers, made superfast broadband available to over 27.1 million homes and businesses.
Engineers rolled out more than 35 million kilometres of fibre cables, and the project involved more than 145 million man hours in total.
Openreach CEO Clive Selley said the remaining 5% of properties that don’t have access to superfast broadband are now the organisation’s focus. “We want to get on with the job of delivering better broadband to everybody in Britain, and we don’t want people in not-spots to wait any longer,” he said.
The Government intends to introduce a Universal Service Obligation, which will give people the right to request broadband speeds of 10 megabits per second by 2020.