Superfast fibre broadband reaches 1 million homes and businesses

The current plan’s to cover 95% of the UK within the next three years, but the government’s aim is to eventually bring faster broadband to every home and business in the land...

Superfast fibre optic broadband has now reached more than a million British homes and businesses, the government revealed today.

The £1.7billion nationwide roll-out to extend the UK's superfast fibre optic network to 95% of residential and commercial premises by 2017 is said to be "firmly on track".

At the moment, as many as 40,000 households are gaining access to fibre optic broadband every week.

Culture secretary Sajid Javid said: "It's totally transforming the way we live and work. You can download feature-length films faster, video-chatting with family and friends around the world is more reliable and households can go online simultaneously - without the connection slowing down or dropping out. For businesses, superfast speeds are boosting profits."

Our telecoms expert, Dominic Baliszewski, said today's news represented a "significant milestone," but stressed that in order to benefit, customers will need to actively sign up for superfast speeds.

"Consumer uptake now needs to catch up with technology. The cost of fibre optic has come down a lot in recent years, but in real terms it's inevitably more expensive than standard broadband.

"There are still bargains to be had if families are savvy enough to shop around for their fibre. Bundling in particular can be a great way of lowering the cost, as providers often give chunky discounts to customers who add a TV package to their phone and broadband deal.

"But this announcement may also rub salt into the wounds for households in remote, rural regions, who are languishing on extremely slow broadband, or sometimes no broadband at all."

Gavin Patterson, BT chief executive, said getting fibre broadband to rural areas is "hard" but engineers are making "great progress" on plans to do just that.

"We're laying undersea cables to the Outer Hebrides, reaching remote villages in Wales and transforming rural areas across England."

The government's main focus is now on the 5% of households not covered by the current roll-out, with an extra £10million being invested in pilot schemes in eight locations around the UK.

Findings from these projects will be used to inform decisions about how best to connect the most hard-to-reach areas, so that eventually everyone can get superfast broadband.

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