Business

Superfast broadband 'boosts UK business by £9bn'

Fibre broadband cables (graphic) Image copyright Getty Images

Faster broadband has driven a £9bn surge in turnover for businesses, according to new government figures.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) says superfast broadband has now reached almost five million homes and businesses.

They say the move has delivered £12.28 benefit for firms for every £1 invested by central and local authorities.

Digital Minister Margot James said the target was to ensure access for all to fast and affordable broadband by 2020.

The findings come in a report The Evaluation of the Economic Impact and Public Value of the Superfast Broadband Programme, covering 2012 to 2016.

The report also claimed the broadband rollout had led to a reduction of almost 9,000 jobseekers allowance claims as well as the creation of 49,000 local jobs.

Last month, Openreach, the firm that runs much of the UK's telecoms infrastructure, reduced the wholesale price of broadband in an attempt to boost the number of homes and businesses using fast services.

For firms such as Sky and TalkTalk it means the cost of using the network would be reduced if they can increase the number of customers on it.

'Higher take-up'

Commenting on the DCMs's report, Openreach chief executive Clive Selley said the superfast broadband rollout was a great engineering achievement.

"It is great to see businesses across the UK reaping the benefits of faster broadband speeds," he said.

"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."

So far about 10 million households and businesses have upgraded to superfast broadband - speeds of 24 megabits per second and above.

Currently, the highest rate of superfast broadband availability is in North East England (97.19%), followed by South East England (97.07%) and the West Midlands (96.56%).

The lowest coverage level is in Northern Ireland (87.74%), followed by South West England (93.34%) and Scotland (93.53%).

The UK government wants to see all of the UK on full-fibre broadband - rather than rely on broadband delivered over copper networks - by 2033.

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