UK gov has ramped up broadband roll-outs to tackle 'hard-to-reach' areas in 2023

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The UK government is on track to provide high-speed internet connectivity across 85% of the country by 2025, according to new statistics from Building Digital UK (BDUK). 

BDUK, which leads the government’s Project Gigabit broadband rollout scheme, revealed that over 929,700 homes and businesses across the country have now been granted access through the initiative.

In a progress update on the roll-out last week, the organization also said it's set to spend more than £530 million this year on connecting more hard-to-reach sites across the country.

"2024 will be an important year for the country’s gigabit future. BDUK has worked hard to identify the premises most in need of subsidized gigabit connectivity and is working with a range of suppliers to roll out broadband to these hard-to-reach areas," said Sir John Whittingdale, minister for data and digital infrastructure.

"Throughout 2024, we will need to continue to work with our partners to target the areas of greatest need and complement suppliers’ own commercial delivery plans."

The latest set of new connections is in rural Derbyshire, where more than 17,000 homes and businesses are set to be connected by next summer. Over the last year, Shropshire, Cambridgeshire, New Forest, Norfolk, Suffolk, Hampshire, North East Staffordshire and Oxfordshire have also all been awarded contracts for upgrades.

Rapid progress in bolstering connectivity across the UK now means that eight-in-ten homes and businesses are connected, BDUK, said. The organization added that it will exceed its delivery target for the year, connecting 162,600 premises rather than the target of 133,000.

The biggest regional growth in the last three months has been in the North East, where an extra 5% of premises now have access to gigabit-capable connectivity, bumping the region up from the eighth to sixth most gigabit-capable region within the UK.

"Thanks to the hard work of the telecoms industry and government action, gigabit coverage across the UK has increased rapidly in recent years - from one in ten households in 2019 to nearly eight in ten today," Whittingdale said.

"Since our first contract signature in North Dorset last August to the latest £33.4 million signing in Derbyshire today - the UK government has invested over £660 million to connect over 400,000 rural premises to the digital fast line."

Selective funding for UK broadband schemes

However, the government warned there are certain areas that may be 'prohibitively expensive to reach', and where it's looking for alternative solutions. 


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Earlier this year, a report from broadband firm National Broadband claimed that funding has largely been being spent on easier and cheaper-to-reach areas in a bid to meet targets.

For example, the report found the South West - which has the greatest number of premises in England unable to access landline broadband at speeds higher than 10Mbit/s - had only received £42.3 million from Project Gigabit.

In contract, the South East and East of England were granted over £250 million each to drive connectivity improvements.

Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance journalist writing for publications including the BBC, Private Eye, Forbes, Raconteur and specialist technology titles.