New government report revealed that faster broadband has driven a £9bn surge in turnover for businesses.
The findings come in an independent assessment labeled “The Evaluation of the Economic Impact and Public Value of the Superfast Broadband Programme”, covering 2012 to 2016.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) says in the report that superfast broadband has now reached almost five million homes and businesses across the country and that it has helped delivering £12 benefit for firms for every £1 invested by central and local authorities.
The report claims that the broadband rollout led to the creation of 49,000 local jobs as well as a reduction of almost 9,000 jobseekers allowance claims.
The report also says that the government’s rollout of superfast broadband to those areas deemed “commercially un-viable” has helped take nationwide coverage to 95%.
DCMS said in the press release, “Take-up of the new technology in areas benefiting from the Government programme is now running at 45% – more than double the expected rate. As a result of the contracts put in place by Government, those companies rolling out superfast broadband will now return more than £500 million in subsidies to the public purse to be used to reach those locations not yet covered by existing plans.”
Minister for Digital, Margot James said, “Our rollout of superfast broadband across the UK has been the most challenging infrastructure project in a generation but is one of our greatest successes.”
James added, “We are reaching thousands more homes and businesses every week that can now reap the clear and tangible benefits that superfast broadband provides. We are helping to ensure the downfall of the digital divide.”
Clive Selley, Openreach chief executive, said, “It is great to see businesses across the UK reaping the benefits of faster broadband speeds and I’m proud of the leading role that Openreach has played in helping to deliver the Government’s rollout of superfast broadband – one of Britain’s great engineering achievements. We’ve also recently introduced a raft of lower wholesale prices to help drive higher take-up of faster fibre services which will help to further fuel the boost to the UK economy.”
The government announced in March its intention to introduce a Universal Service Obligation (USO) for broadband as part of its commitment in the Digital Strategy to ensure that the UK has world-class digital connectivity and inclusion.
The new USO aims to fill the gap left by the government’s existing broadband rollout programs, to deliver broadband connections to the hardest-to-reach premises in the country. The USO is intended to provide a legal right to request a broadband connection of at least 10 Mbps download speed, up to a reasonable cost threshold.