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BDUK broadband roll-out hits 8,000 homes per million pounds spent

The latest government statistics on the progress of the BDUK broadband roll-out has delivered fresh insight into the value for money being offered by the scheme

Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), the government-owned programme that aims to deliver a 24Mbps broadband service to parts of the UK left out of the commercial roll-out, has passed 4.4 million homes up to the end of March 2016, hitting 8,036 properties for every million pounds of taxpayers’ money spent.

To date, DCMS has funded BDUK to the tune of £550.8m in grants to local authorities and budget transfers to the devolved Scottish and Welsh administrations.

At the peak of the BDUK roll-out between June 2014 and March 2015, the programme passed 1.5 million premises, around 500,000 per quarter, and at one point was covering nearly 14,000 properties per million pounds of expenditure.

This figure has naturally reduced as more populous and easy-to-reach rural areas were covered, and the programme began to address the needs of the remotest areas of the UK, where populations are thinner and homes harder to reach. This means more money is needed to bring a fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) service – which is all that BDUK currently provides – within reach.

This later stage of the BDUK project has seen more variety in terms of the network providers that have won delivery contracts, and the network technology they use. Fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) supplier Gigaclear, for example, recently received a £111m funding injection that will be used in part to help meet its commitments on a number of BDUK-supported schemes.

The statistics do not, however, account for properties that have benefitted from BDUK projects if their resulting speed is under 24Mbps – the point at which the government believes a service can be referred to as superfast.

It should also be noted that total spend on BDUK is higher as local authorities and devolved administrations, alongside the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), have all made contributions.

It also excludes support for Connection Vouchers, the ill-fated Mobile Infrastructure Project and Rural Communities Broadband Fund, and the market test pilots for innovative delivery methods.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) released the BDUK statistics on schedule, but did not comment further owing to pre-election restrictions.

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