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The government has quietly hit its target of having superfast broadband connections – defined in this case as capable of delivering speeds of 24Mbps and above – available to 90% of UK homes and businesses, according to new statistics released by broadband comparison site Thinkbroadband.com.
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This objective was first tabled under the last Labour government in 2009, and was subsequently made official by the coalition government in 2010, which set the objective of hitting the 90% target by the 2015 General Election, a date that later slipped to the end of 2015.
Back in 2012, when the first Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) cabinet was delivered, coverage stood at 67.5%, by Thinkbroadband’s reckoning.
“Hitting the 90% target has come a little later than originally hoped, but for such a large infrastructure project, the time taken is still very much a success,” said Thinkbroadband editor Andrew Ferguson.
But there still remains much work to be done, he added. “This is just a stepping stone towards greater targets, with various broadband projects across the UK now working towards a 95% superfast coverage goal by the end of 2017.”
The BDUK objective of 95% availability of a 24Mbps service by the end of 2017 remains a work in progress, but Thinkbroadband said that, based on current rates of deployment around the country, this target is likely to be met.
However, Ferguson acknowledged that this would do little to ease the growing frustrations of those who are still being left behind.
With more and more MPs representing rural areas complaining on behalf of their constituents, and both digital economy minister Ed Vaizey and Ofcom chief executive Sharon White expected to deliver evidence to the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee’s broadband inquiry later this month, the BDUK controversy will rumble on.
According to Thinkbroadband’s latest national statistics, 89.4% of premises in the UK are able to hit the EU-defined superfast threshold of 30Mbps, and 50.1% are able to achieve an ultrafast speed of 100Mbps – mostly due to Virgin Media’s cable expansion, which is available to 48.9% of UK premises.
The statistics also showed that just 1.6% of premises are able to access a fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) connection – hailed as the current gold standard of broadband – with most of those being Openreach or KCOM connections.