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Superfast broadband now available to 80 per cent of the UK

Four in five British premises are now in reach of superfast broadband, according to government figures. 

The various BDUK (Broadband Delivery for the UK) projects that are running up and down the country aim to make superfast broadband available to 95 per cent of UK premises by 2017

The current figure equates to two million locations that would not otherwise be able to get superfast services – defined as anything providing download speeds of at least 24Mbps – from BT, Virgin Media or any of the big commercial ISPs. 

Culture secretary Sajid Javid said: “Today there are two million more UK homes and businesses with access to superfast broadband than there were two years ago as a result of this ambitious project. 

“This is a tremendous result that is already making a huge difference to millions of people. We want everyone in the UK to be able to enjoy the benefits of superfast broadband, that’s why we’ve begun work on reaching the last five per cent of communities not covered by existing plans.” 

Most homes and businesses covered by the superfast schemes are able to order FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet)-based services, with a lucky few able to get faster FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) lines. 

Superfast broadband will be delivered to the so-called last five per cent using a variety of methods, including satellite and wireless broadband. 

Delivering broadband to these hard to reach, predominantly rural places is next on the government’s big broadband agenda. Homes in Exmoor, Northern Ireland and Scotland are being earmarked for high-speed trials using satellite broadband and some harder to reach plans in England are set to trial new hybrid systems.  

When is five per cent not five per cent?

The final ‘five per cent’ might actually end up being smaller. Joe Garner, CEO of BT’s network arm Openreach said that any cash left over from setting up cabinets and installing fibre will be reinvested, extending the reach of fixed-line superfast broadband. 

Garner said: “The programme is on schedule overall and our people continue to work flat-out on connecting homes and business in the UK’s hard-to-reach areas. If we come in under budget, savings can be reinvested to take coverage even further. Funds will also be released if take-up exceeds expectations, all of which is further great value for the taxpayer.”

Development of ‘wireless to the home’ technology saw the village of Dartmoor, Devon able to get a service equivalent to Openreach’s FTTC products using a microwave radio link instead of fibre optic cable to connect a street cabinet to the nearby exchange. 

BT is also preparing trials of G.fast, an emerging tech that promises to bring triple digit download speeds to the majority of UK homes. 

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