£440m broadband boost for remote regions

The government has pledged £440 million to help up to 600,000 extra homes and business in the hardest-to-reach parts of the UK get superfast broadband.

With the money coming from ‘efficiency savings’ and money reinvested by BT as part of the government's flagship broadband rollout scheme, the funding will seek to deliver quick and reliable Internet connections to remote areas.

So far, approximately 4.5 million premises have been given access to superfast broadband, measured at 24Mbps, through the government’s Broadband Delivery UK rollout, with more than 1.5 million signing up for a faster connection, meaning that more than 90 per cent of the UK can now get superfast broadband.

The government paid BT in 2010 to roll out superfast broadband in hard-to-reach areas where providers had said it was not cost-effective to install broadband infrastructure. The agreement stated that BT had to repay some of the subsidy if more than 20 per cent of premises in those areas bought superfast broadband. On average, the take-up has been 30.6 per cent.

Karen Bradley, Culture Secretary, said: “Our Broadband Delivery UK programme is giving families and businesses in hard-to-reach areas the fast and reliable internet connections which are increasingly at the heart of modern life.

“Strong take-up and robust value-for-money measures mean £440 million will be available for reinvestment where it matters – putting more connections in the ground. This will benefit around 600,000 extra premises and is a further sign of our commitment to build a country that works for everyone.

“Broadband speeds aren’t boosted automatically – it needs people to sign up. Increasing take-up is a win-win-win: consumers get a better service, it encourages providers to invest, and when more people sign up in BDUK areas, money is clawed back to pay for more connections.”

Chancellor Philip Hammond announced £1.14 billion in government funds in last month's Autumn Statement to improve fibre broadband and develop 5G.