The rollout is delivering superfast access – internet speeds greater than 24 Mbps – to those properties not covered by existing commercial networks and is on track to take superfast access to 95 per cent of the UK by 2017. More than four out of five UK premises already have access to superfast speeds, and the rollout is currently reaching an additional 40,000 homes and businesses every week.
This comes following recent news that BT will make up to £129m available to extend the Government led rollout of superfast broadband across the UK.
Culture Secretary John Whittingdale said: “Our rollout of superfast broadband is transforming lives up and down the UK as every day thousands more homes and businesses are gaining access to superfast speeds. It’s fantastic to see that the rollout of superfast broadband in South East is now delivering for customers and for the taxpayer.
“The levels of people taking up superfast broadband in areas where we invested public money are beyond our expectations, and BT is now reimbursing the public purse to deliver further coverage across the UK. This now means that BT will be providing up to £129m cashback for some of the most hard to reach areas.”
The additional funding will be made available to local authorities to reinvest the money in providing further superfast broadband coverage to even more homes and businesses, and much earlier than originally planned. The money is being made available as a result of a clause in the contracts BT agreed with government and local authorities that allows the funding BT has received to be returned or reinvested into further coverage if take-up is better than the 20 per cent expected in BT’s original business case. The higher take up rate to date has resulted in BT making a new business case assumption of reaching 30 per cent take-up in these areas.
Bill Murphy, BT’s Managing Director for Next Generation Access, said: “Today marks another very important stage in the rollout of an exciting technology, which is transforming the lives of communities across the South East and the UK as a whole.
“BT’s multi billion pound investment in superfast broadband through its involvement in partnerships and its own commercial programme has already made fibre broadband available to many hundreds of thousands of households and businesses in the South East – and the number is continuing to grow rapidly. Our Openreach engineers are rolling out the technology at a world class pace, reaching thousands more premises every week.
“Successful broadband partnerships are creating a lasting legacy, which will play a key role in the future prosperity of communities for many years to come.”
Rupert Simmons, Lead Member Economy, East Sussex County Council, said: “East Sussex County Council is delighted that its investment in superfast broadband has connected over 52,800 premises already and that the e-Sussex project is helping make such an impact nationally.
“Access to fast broadband is vital to our local economy as it will give our businesses the opportunity to compete and grow and will empower our communities to further flourish.
“This is a great achievement which we should all be proud of, and we look forward to pushing fibre coverage even further into harder-to-serve communities through our new contract with BT which we hope will start even more infrastructure build early in 2016.”
Homes and businesses can find out more information about going superfast online at www.gov.uk/gosuperfast or www.esussex.org