Superfast broadband now reaches 97 per cent of UK, says MP

Last week, during a House of Commons debate, the Minister for Digital and Culture, Margot James MP, made the claim that superfast broadband networks were now accessible to 97 per cent of all UK premises.

The statement comes to a surprise for many, who believed that superfast broadband – with speeds of at least 24Mbps – would only reach the 97 per cent figure by March 2020 as part of the Building Digital UK (BDUK) programme expectations.

James said: “The government’s superfast broadband programme has met its target and is now providing superfast coverage to 97 per cent of premises.

“In addition, we have just launched the rural gigabit connectivity programme, with £200 million of funding, to begin to deliver even faster, gigabit speeds to the most remote and rural parts of the UK.”

As a result of this, James announced new targets of reaching 98 per cent coverage to all premises across the UK by the end of 2020.
However, she noted that some areas, like Forest Hill in London, were still unconnected to the superfast broadband speeds. Furthermore, she estimated that around 3.8 per cent of the country – mostly in rural regions – were forced to use ADSL broadband which only provided incredibly slow internet connectivity.

In fact, 0.7 per cent of all UK premises experience speeds of less than 2Mbps on a regular basis.

The government’s Universal Service Obligation (USO) programme, which will come into effect later in the year, was devised to make it mandatory for internet service providers to facilitate minimum broadband speeds of 10Mbps to anyone who requests it.

Although presently some 620,000 premises fall within the USO bracket, the number appears to be falling as coverage for superfast fibre-to-the-cabinet broadband rises nationwide. In addition to this, as the government commits to promoting ultrafast broadband by 2033, the figure is further anticipated to fall.

Openreach has claimed that three million premises will be connected to ultrafast ‘full-fibre’ broadband by the end of 2020.