Govt ultrafast broadband scheme passes 500,000 milestone

Govt ultrafast broadband scheme passes 500,000 milestone

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Half a million properties in the UK have been connected to gigabit-capable broadband in the last two years as a result of government investment schemes, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport has announced.

This means that, when combined with those premises reached by commercial rollouts, more than 7.5 millions homes and businesses are now able to access this technology, compared with just 1.4 million in the summer of 2018.

So far, the government has committed to spending £1 billion on such rollouts until the end of 2021, while a further £5 billion for the hardest-to-reach areas is set to be earmarked soon.

Digital infrastructure minister Matt Warman commented: "It's fantastic to see so many people getting access to gigabit speed broadband. This is thanks to our investment alongside the sterling work of industry."

He also urged people living in rural communities that are still in the "digital slow lane" to apply for a share of the financial help that is available so they will be able to take full advantage of the benefits of better connectivity, from making work easier to catching up with family and friends.

This help is delivered through the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme, which is open until March next year and aims to "future-proof people's internet connections for a generation".

The government noted that so far, more than 45,000 vouchers, worth more than £90 million, have been issued through the initiative to subsidise the cost of building faster, gigabit-capable broadband infrastructure to homes and businesses in areas that would be overlooked by commercial deployments. 

Mr Warman also announced the launch of a new taskforce to help drive consumer take-up of gigabit speed internet connections. This will be led by consumer and business groups including Which?, the Federation of Small Businesses and Confederation of British Industry.

Rocio Concha, director of advocacy at Which?, said: "By bringing together industry, the regulator, government, as well as groups representing both consumers and businesses, this new advisory group will be able to provide recommendations on the best way to ensure everyone can take advantage of faster, more reliable internet connections as they are rolled out." 

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