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Mark Winnington
County Councillor Mark Winnington

Broadband funding could help connect more Staffordshire properties

Additional funding for the national BDUK project could lead to more Staffordshire properties getting connected to fibre broadband, the county council’s economic growth leader has said.

The success of the Government’s superfast broadband rollout programme means that a total of up to £645m is to be made available over the coming years to help take superfast broadband to the most remote and hard to reach places in the UK, it was announced today by Minister for Digital Matt Hancock. Together with other planned delivery, it is estimated that this could see more than 900,000 extra UK homes and businesses gain access to superfast speeds after the end of this year, taking superfast coverage to 98 per cent of the nation over the next few years.

Minister for Digital Matt Hancock  said:

We have now brought superfast broadband to almost 94 per cent of UK homes and businesses, and we are reaching thousands more every week. We are on track to reach 95 per cent by the end of the year, but we know there’s still more to do. The money that is now being returned to the programme for reinvestment will help us reach that final 5 per cent, and is all part of our commitment to make sure that 100 per cent of the UK can get affordable, fast and reliable broadband by 2020.”

The Government subsidised rollout has now reached more than 4.5 million premises around the UK, and new figures show more than 2 million homes and businesses have now signed up for superfast connections in areas where the Government has invested in broadband.

A clause in the Government’s contracts requires suppliers to recycle funding when people take up superfast connections installed as part of the programme. Research published today shows this take up has been higher than expected and as a result, the major supplier, BT, has set aside £465 million to extend coverage over the full lifetime of the contracts – up from £292m in December last year – in nations and regions around the UK.

Combined with project efficiencies of £180m resulting from successful management and delivery of the programme,  there will be up to £645 million available for local authorities to re-invest and take superfast speeds to those homes and businesses

Staffordshire County Council’s economic growth leader Mark Winnington said:

The additional funding for local broadband programmes announced today is a welcome one and could well support the connection of even more properties in Staffordshire. Our Superfast Staffordshire programme with partners BT has been a huge success – enabling 70,000 properties to connect to fibre broadband so far. The national programme requires suppliers to recycle funding when people take up connection as a result of the scheme. In Staffordshire we have among the highest take-ups in the Midlands at close to 40 per cent – providing people with greater opportunities and supporting our programme to expand further. We will continue to make every effort to find solutions to connect the remaining four per cent of properties.”

By the end of 2018, 96 per cent of properties in Staffordshire will be able to connect to fibre broadband as a result of the Superfast Staffordshire programme and commercial provision.