The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has released quarterly statistics shedding some light on the progress of the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) rural broadband roll-out.
The government’s latest figures show that 2,411,395 premises had been passed by BDUK-sponsored broadband as of the end of March 2015. The project hit the two million mark in February 2015.
All told, BDUK has spent a cumulative total of £301,444,870 in the form of grants to local authorities and budget transfers to the devolved Scottish and Welsh governments over the same period.
This means that for every million pounds spent by BDUK, 7,999 premises have been passed. However, using a truer accruals basis, matching costs incurred to the timing of delivery, expenditure rises to £352,718,218, meaning that in fact, BDUK has only passed 6,837 – around 1,000 fewer – premises for each million pounds spent.
Accruals expenditure works out higher because it takes account of work that has been delivered in advance of actual payment.
It should also be noted that the actual amount spent will work out much higher thanks to match-funding from local authorities and the devolved administrations, as well as European Regional Development Fund money.
In addition, said DCMS' report, the number of premises reported are only those that can now receive download speeds of 24Mbps and higher as a result of BDUK-supported projects.
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This means that those properties benefiting from BDUK that are receiving lower speeds were not counted, even if they were receiving broadband that was faster than the BDUK Universal Service Commitment of 2Mbps.
The statistics also fail to take into account BDUK-supported projects that passed premises which already had a superfast broadband service available.
The amount spent does, however, account for BDUK support for Connection Vouchers for businesses, as well as the Mobile Infrastructure Project and the Rural Communities Broadband Fund, market test pilot schemes, and DCMS’ own administrative costs.
Under new management
DCMS recently got a new minister as prime minister David Cameron set out the first majority Conservative cabinet since John Major was in Number 10.
Long-standing MP John Whittingdale was named to the post of culture secretary after Sajid Javid became the new business secretary.
The government has since revealed that digital economy minister Ed Vaizey – who has been one of the main broadband advocates in the Commons – will remain in his post going forward.