The government’s Broadband Delivery UK scheme is well on course to make superfast broadband speeds available to 95 per cent of the population by 2017, according to Communications Minister Ed Vaizey, who has announced that 370,000 homes and businesses were passed by the end of February.
He noted that this coverage includes premises that would otherwise not have been upgraded as part of BT’s commercial superfast broadband rollout to two-thirds of the UK by spring 2014, or through Virgin Media’s existing reach.
It continues the rapid acceleration of the programme, after the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) released figures in January showing that the £1.2 billion BDUK rollout had reached 273,731 properties by the end of 2013.
Mr Vaizey made the comments during a Parliamentary debate on the rollout of superfast broadband in England, and revealed that the the programme is on track to “get into seven figures some time this year”.
Since the beginning of the project in December 2012, there has a been a significant proliferation in the number of premises receiving broadband access, with just 254 passed in the first month of operation, rising to 16,638 in March 2013, 38,343 in June last year, 111,968 by the end of Q3, and 273,731 by Christmas.
That figure increased to 370,000 by the end of February, with no slowdown in sight, Mr Vaizey explained.
"We have been passing 10,000 homes a week, and we are now on track to pass 40,000 homes a week by summer 2014, so the programme is accelerating all the time," he added.
The Communications Minister went on to note that the calculations for premises passed with superfast broadband were based on those who can actually receive it.
"So it is not about simply putting up a cabinet and saying, ‘that is delivering superfast broadband to 2,000 homes', because some of the homes in that cabinet area might be 1km away and not get such speeds," he noted.
As the figures only run until the end of February, the actually number of homes passed is now likely to be well in excess of 400,000, with the original BDUK and BT roll-out target of 90 per cent coverage by the end of 2015 still on course.