NEARLY 9,000 homes and businesses in Newcastle have been reached by the Government’s nationwide rollout of superfast broadband, figures published today (Wednesday 12 August) reveal.
The announcement comes on the same day as Government has announced the nationwide rollout of superfast broadband has now passed more than three million UK homes and businesses. The rollout is on track to reach 95 per cent of the UK by 2017 and is now reaching around 5,000 additional premises every day.
In Newcastle, an additional 8,749 premises can now access superfast broadband, with the figure for the whole North East reaching 124,249.
Councillor Ged Bell, Newcastle City Council Cabinet Member for Investment and Development, said: “Every time we connect someone to superfast broadband we open up more opportunities for them – whether that’s in being able to access information to help them in their jobs, to search for work, for learning or for entertainment purposes.
“Via Go Digital Newcastle we are fulfilling our ambitions to keep Newcastle at the forefront of digital technology – therefore boosting the local economy - and making a real difference to the lives of people who live here.”
Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey said: “Our nationwide rollout of superfast broadband has now reached an additional three million UK homes and businesses and is transforming lives up and down the country. I'm delighted that the people and businesses of Newcastle are now able to enjoy all the benefits that superfast speeds have to offer."
More than four out of five UK premises already has access to superfast speeds, and the rollout is currently reaching an additional 40,000 homes and businesses every week.
This comes following news last week that BT will make up to £129m available to extend the Government led roll-out of superfast broadband.
Culture Secretary John Whittingdale said: “Our rollout of superfast broadband is transforming lives up and down the UK 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 in the North East 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, and BT is now reimbursing the public purse to deliver further coverage across the UK. This now means that BT will be providing up to £129m cashback for some of the most hard to reach areas.”
The additional funding will be made available to local authorities to reinvest the money in providing further superfast broadband coverage to even more homes and businesses, and much earlier than originally planned.
The money is being made available as a result of a clause in the contracts BT agreed with governments and local authorities that allows the funding BT has received to be returned or reinvested into further coverage if take-up is better than the 20 per cent expected in BT’s original business case.
The higher take up rate to date has resulted in BT making a new business case assumption of reaching 30 per cent take-up in these areas.
Bill Murphy, BT’s Managing Director for Next Generation Access, said: “Today marks another very important stage in the rollout of an exciting technology, which is transforming the lives of communities across the North East and the UK as a whole.
“BT’s multi-billion pound investment in superfast broadband through its involvement in partnerships and its own commercial programme has already made fibre broadband available to many hundreds of thousands of households and businesses in the North East – and the number is continuing to grow rapidly. Our engineers are rolling out the technology at a world class pace, reaching thousands more premises every week.
“Successful broadband partnerships are creating a lasting legacy, which will play a key role in the future prosperity of communities for many years to come.”
The Go Digital Newcastle programme – run by Newcastle City Council – has been instrumental in encouraging local people and businesses to switch to superfast broadband.
Homes and businesses can find out more information about going superfast online at www.gov.uk/gosuperfast