Rural broadband to get £440 million boost

The government has managed to scrape together an extra £440 million to put towards improving rural broadband, it announced earlier this week.

The money has come from a combo of "efficiency savings" on the BDUK programme - a few things didn't cost as much as expected, most likely - and money returned by BT.

When another organisation pays BT money to roll its network out to a certain area, BT returns some of that investment if take-up of its superfast services is over 20% - which is what has happened here. Take-up was 30.6%, in fact, meaning a repayment of a huge £292 million.

The company had already announced £150 million of that money, but that still means an unexpected £142 million.

The BDUK (Broadband Delivery UK) scheme aims to get 95% of households in the country connected to superfast broadband by the end of next year, and experts reckon this extra financial boost could push that figure to 97% by 2020.

BDUK estimates that it will allow 600,000 more premises to get connected, mostly difficult-to-reach properties in rural areas, though it hasn't set a firm timeline for doing so.

Culture secretary Karen Bradley 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 £440m 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."

Source: Computer Weekly

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