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UK Government Denies Superfast Broadband Targets Slipping to 2016

Monday, Apr 22nd, 2013 (11:20 am) - Score 968

The government’s Communications Minister, Ed Vaizey, has told the House of Commons that he still hopes 90% of the United Kingdom will have access to a superfast broadband (25Mbps+) ISP by the end of 2015. But he admitted that they were still “actively looking at the options” for a post-2015 strategy.

In recent months ISPreview.co.uk has noted that a number of the related contracts, which have so far all been won by BT, have set completion dates that slip into 2016. Critics of the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) office have suggested that this could represent a delay, although Vaizey was keen to point out that the 90% target is a general one (i.e. some areas will get above 90% by the end of 2015, although that in turn could mean that others might still fall a little short).

House of Commons (18th April 2013 Debate)

Nic Dakin MP Scunthorpe County Constituency:

Given that the Government’s intention is to achieve 90% coverage by 2015, why are they signing contracts with delivery dates in 2016?

Mr Vaizey:

I know that the hon. Gentleman will welcome the contract that was signed on 8 March with Onlincolnshire, the brand for the delivery of broadband in Lincolnshire, with £14 million of investment from the Government and £8.5 million coming from BT. At the end of that contract, the coverage will be not just 90% but 94.5%.

Vaizey also confirmed that the extra £300m from the BBC TV Licence fee will indeed still be going towards bringing better broadband to the “last 10%” (i.e. most rural areas), which have so far only been promised a minimum download speed of at least 2Mbps (Megabits per second). But he also admitted that no firm strategy had yet been chosen for how this extra funding would be spent. BDUK currently has a budget of £530m until 2015 (excluding the urban broadband and mobile funds etc.).

However, given that BT’s past commitment to reach 90% of the UK by 2017 was contingent upon them winning practically all of BDUK’s £830m initial budget, it’s perhaps safe to say that we already have a fairly good idea of where the extra funding is likely to be headed. Just to clarify, BT’s 90% figure is for their own FTTC/P network, while BDUK’s 90% figure is general (i.e. includes Virgin Media’s coverage and that of other ISPs too).

Separately Vaizey also suggested that the government was now well ahead of schedule in terms of mobile coverage. Ofcom’s recent 4G (LTE) auction committed Mobile Broadband providers to ensuring that “indoor reception” could reach at least 98% of the UK population (99% when outdoors) by the end of 2017 at the latest. But Vaizey said,”now we are likely to get 4G by the end of 2015— two years ahead of schedule and with 98% coverage“. Credits to The Register for spotting the original debate.

By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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