Superfast broadband in Britain benefits 1 million
Government officials say that one million homes and businesses have now benefited from the rollout of superfast broadband.
The UK government has announced that its rollout of superfast broadband across the UK has now benefited a total of a million businesses and homes.
According to a statement from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), the milestone is an important marker that the UK’s plans to ensure that 95 per cent of homes and businesses in the country will have access to superfast speeds by 2017. In fact, the government claims that up to 40,000 premises are now being given access each week as the programme gathers speed.
Broadband access is now a vital part of the infrastructure of any developed economy, and it is hoped that the superfast rollout will allow many firms to keep up or gain a competitive edge over their rivals, both in the UK and in other advanced economies.
DCMS has spearheaded plans to ensure superfast broadband covers as much of the country as possible to support businesses, especially those in rural areas where private sector companies are less likely to reach.
The economic advantages are expected to be great – DCMS says the rural programme will return £20 for each £1 invested, while faster broadband will generate 56,000 extra jobs in the next decade. What’s more, the rollout itself is boosting local economies to the tune of £1.5 billion, the department claims.
At least as far as the government is concerned, the plans are working.
The department says that the UK now has the best superfast coverage among the top five economies in Europe, and it is investing more money to get superfast speeds to the five per cent of the UK that will not be covered in the current scheme.
But not every business is impressed so far. John Allan, national chairman at the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), told the BBC that there is still a sizeable amount of work to do to make sure all businesses have affordable broadband that’s really up to scratch. That’s hardly surprising, given that a recent FSB study said DCMS targets weren’t ambitious enough. As many as 45,000 firms are still on dial-up connections, the report found, while others are still struggling with slow speeds.
“We therefore want to see the UK government show ambition with its broadband targets and put business needs at their centre,” Mr Allan said at the time. “Leaving five per cent of the population with a 2Mbps connection in 2017 is not good enough.