The government has announced £442 million in unlocked funding to help service providers connect around 600,000 additional properties, mostly rural, to high-speed broadband lines.
Earlier this month, communications watchdog Ofcom released a report
warning that 1.4 million homes and offices in the UK - including a quarter of properties in areas designated as rural - are unable to receive broadband offering throughput higher than 10Mb/s. While this is down from 2.4 million last year, Ofcom is still pushing towards a 'universal' minimum connection speed of 10Mb/s, and the government's freshly released funding aims to help with that.
The funding doesn't come entirely in the form of government hand-outs, however: The Department for Culture, Media & Sport has described the £442 million as a 'windfall
' rather than a grant, and the bulk comes from people signing up for connectivity in areas targeted by the Broadband Delivery UK programme whereby a portion of the cost is earmarked for reinvestment. In total, £292 million is being provided under the BDUK programme, while a further £150 million in savings on 44 existing roll-outs is being reinvested following what the Department claims has been 'careful contract management by the government, local authorities, and BT
'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,
' claimed Culture Secretary Karen Bradley of the initiative. '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.
The funding is being provided solely to BT for expansion of its wholesale network, with £133 million already allocated to regions around the UK.