Rural UK IPTV boost as government claims 3MN more fast broadband connections


Joseph O'Halloran

| 12 August 2015

The issue of reliable and fast broadband availability is as thorny as the bushes to be found in such locales but superfast broadband is rolling quickly to the countryside, says the UK Government.

In data released by the country's Department for Culture, Media & Sport, the rollout of the government-funded superfast broadband has now reached more than three million homes and businesses providing a spur to the adoption of services such as IPTV and online video in general.

The report asserts that the government programme is seeing the delivery of Internet speeds greater than 24Mbps to those properties currently not covered by existing commercial networks, and is on track to take superfast access to 95% of the UK by 2017. The data also suggests that more than four-fifths of UK homes and businesses already have access to superfast speeds, and the rollout is currently reaching an additional 40,000 homes and businesses every week.

Commenting on reaching what his department feels is a landmark, Culture Secretary John Whittingdale said: "Reaching three million properties is a huge achievement. Our rollout of superfast broadband is transforming lives up and down the country as every day thousands more homes and businesses are gaining access to superfast speeds. It's fantastic to see that the rollout of superfast broadband is now delivering for customers and for the taxpayer. The levels of people taking up superfast broadband in areas where we invested public money are beyond our expectations."

To deliver further coverage across the UK, incumbent telco BT is now reimbursing the public purse with up to 129 million in cashback to aid connection of high speed fibre networks to some of the UK's most hard to reach areas. Explained BT CEO Gavin Patterson: "The UK is making great progress with fibre broadband. 23 million premises are covered by BT's open access network, with three million of those enabled under the BDUK programme. Our Openreach engineers have worked tirelessly to connect some of the most remote parts of the UK, from Shetland and Hebrides to the moors of southwest England. The public have responded by taking up fibre in large numbers, and that's good news for those areas that haven't been reached yet."

Yet despite the optimism, a note of caution was struck by politicians and cable consumer groups, and a number of rural MPs have contested the claims made by the government and BT as to how easy fast broadband was to acquire in their constituencies.

Consumer telecoms expert Dan Howdle at commented: "Despite being very much sceptical when the government announced that it was only halfway to its target back in February of this year, the last six months have seen rapid acceleration in BT and BDUK's efforts to the present time. In fact, it now very much looks like BT Openreach will hit its target of 95% of all UK homes by 2017, so long as the acceleration it has demonstrated these past months continues ... Fast broadband brings much-needed economic benefit to regions that need it, though it should not be forgotten that 'the final 5%' who are simply too difficult to reach by traditional fibre cables are mostly still in the dark as to which alternative solution they will eventually be bestowed."