The government has announced that almost half a billion pounds has been freed to invest in pushing superfast broadband to homes and businesses in the most remote areas of the UK.
The pot of extra cash totals £442 million according to the government, with the money coming from efficiency savings and ‘careful contract management’ in the existing broadband rollout (which accounts for £150 million), and money reinvested by BT thanks to a ‘clawback mechanism’ that funnels cash back into the rollout fund when people take up superfast connections (accounting for the remaining £292 million).
However, as the BBC reports, some broadband pundits have pointed out that not all of this is ‘new’ money, because BT has already allocated some £133 million of that clawback cash to be spent in remote regions.
Even so, it’s still an impressive extra slab of investment in the UK’s broadband infrastructure, and particularly welcome that this fresh funding is targeting the struggling areas of the country with poor internet speeds.
In its announcement, the government said that around 1.5 million homes and businesses in the UK have now signed up for superfast connections (defined as 24Mbps or better) in areas where the broadband rollout has been subsidised. And it noted that this new investment will bring superfast broadband to some 600,000 further premises.
And the more folks who sign up for superfast connections, the more money will come back into the pot in the future thanks to that clawback mechanism.
As Culture Secretary Karen Bradley commented: “We have made great progress but there is still more to do. Broadband speeds aren’t boosted automatically – it needs people to sign up. Increasing take-up is a win-win-win: consumers get a better service, it encourages providers to invest, and when more people sign up in BDUK [Broadband Delivery UK] areas, money is clawed back to pay for more connections.”