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Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), the government’s nationwide superfast broadband programme, has hit another milestone after passing its three millionth property.
The much-criticised scheme aims to ensure that 95% of UK premises can obtain at least a 24Mbps FTTC broadband connection by 2017, and the operation is still passing about 40,000 homes and businesses every week, according to government statistics.
The programme reached its latest milestone just a fortnight after it was revealed that take-up of broadband services had reached the threshold needed to activate a claw-back mechanism that will see BT return £129m of money to the public purse in order to extend the roll-out even further.
“It is fantastic to see that the roll-out of superfast broadband is now delivering for customers and for the taxpayer,” said culture secretary John Whittingdale.
“The levels of people taking up superfast broadband in areas where we invested public money are beyond our expectations.”
BT CEO Gavin Patterson said the roll-out was making great progress, and added: “Our Openreach engineers have worked tirelessly to connect some of the most remote parts of the UK, from Shetland and the Hebrides to the moors of south-west England.
“The public have responded by taking up fibre in large numbers, and that’s good news for those areas that haven’t been reached yet. It means additional funds are being released which will enable us to go even further at no extra cost to the taxpayer, and earlier than expected.”
In fact, the scheme's popularity among consumers and businesses means BT is now making a business case assumption that it will reach 30% take-up in areas covered by BDUK, compared with the 20% needed to activate the claw-back money.
Earlier in 2015, an assessment carried out by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport revealed that BDUK had so far spent just under £353m, which works out at 6,837 premises for each £1m spent.
At the end of July, BDUK had passed more than 531,000 premises in south-east England, 482,000 in Wales and 394,000 in Scotland.
However, the roll-out was slower in Yorkshire, where 295,000 premises have been reached, north-east England, with 124,000 premises passed, and Northern Ireland, where BDUK has touched 42,000 properties so far.