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Extra £440m to get superfast broadband to hardest-to-reach places in UK

Government announces extra funding for its superfast broadband roll-out, with 600,000 more premises expected to benefit

The government has announced an extra £440m to help get hundreds of thousands of hard-to-reach homes and businesses onto the superfast broadband network.

The additional cash is the result of efficiency savings and a mechanism whereby money is reinvested when people take up superfast broadband. This is known as “gain share clawback”, which is part of the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) project.

In June 2016, Computer Weekly reported that local authorities had underspent by £150m during phase one of the BDUK rural connectivity project, which they said would be reinvested in a further roll-out.

As of December 2016, about 1.5 million premises have signed up for superfast connections in areas where the government has subsidised roll-out. As part of this, BT is releasing £292m for extra connections, with £133m already allocated to be spent.

Culture secretary Karen Bradley said the funding would benefit about 600,000 extra premises.

About 4.5 million premises have been given access to superfast broadband through the government’s £1.7bn BDUK roll-out, with more than 1.5 million signing up for a faster connection.

Bradley said that, although good progress had been made, there was still more to do, and added that the more people who sign up, the better the service will be. “This is because it encourages providers to invest, and when more people sign up in BDUK areas, money is clawed back to pay for more connections,” she said.

Read more about BDUK

Phase two of BDUK, which is scheduled for completion by the end of 2017, is supposed to take coverage from 90% of UK premises – both residential and business – to 95%.

So far, 45 contracts have been awarded in phase two, compared with 44 in phase one. But, unlike phase one, in which all the contracts were controversially awarded to BT, 10 in phase two have been awarded to small suppliers, such as Gigaclear.

Read more on Telecoms networks and broadband communications