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BDUK passing 8,900 homes for every million pounds spent

Government figures suggests the BDUK programme is delivering better value for money to the public as the roll-out continues

Projects supported by Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) have now passed 3,311,843 premises – up by 300,000 since August 2015 – with a government-defined 24Mbps ‘superfast’ broadband service as of the end of September 2015, with every million pounds of expenditure covering 8,899 properties, the government has said.

In its latest regular update on the progress of the BDUK roll-out, which is now moving into a second phase of contracts, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) revealed BDUK was delivering better value for money than it was six months ago, when every million pounds covered 7,999 properties.

All told, the project has delivered £372,153,178 in cash terms to local authorities in the form of grants and budget transfers. This figure rises to £412,002,461 on an accruals basis, accounting for work delivered ahead of payment.

The statistics exclude the Connection Voucher scheme, the Mobile Infrastructure Project, ongoing projects under the Rural Communities Broadband Fund and market test pilots of new delivery technologies.

They also exclude properties benefiting from BDUK projects if said properties are getting speeds of below 24Mbps, even if they are meeting the current universal service commitment of 2Mbps.

Viasat satellite lead Neil Fraser said that with around four million households left to cover to reach BDUK’s target, people still needed to trust that the scheme would come in on time and on budget.

However, he said, as BDUK moved closer to the end-game, it was still unclear how the final 5% would be covered, and this was increasingly a problem.

“BT invested £2.5bn on rolling out its fibre-optic network to two-thirds of the UK, while total public sector expenditure on the BDUK project currently stands at £1.7bn. This is to reach the relatively easy spots; for the final 5%, the costs of fibre could easily dwarf these,” said Fraser.

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