BDUK Finds More Cash for Rural Broadband

BDUK hopes to recover £150m of underspend from Phase 1 of the rural broadband rollout project.

According to BDUK CEO, Chris Townsend, local authorities underspent £150m during Phase 1 of the government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) rural connectivity project, so will reinvest the money in further roll-out to the last 5%.

Along with money being recovered from BT under the gain share claw-back mechanism this means that more than £280m will be reinvested in Phase 2 of BDUK, which is currently underway.

Townsend said he had been working with local authorities to maximise their budgets and spending on broadband.

He said: “There was an underspend of £150m against Phase 1 contracts, which is also coming back in.“We hope that amount of money will give us at least one more percentage point [of coverage].” 

When reflecting on the progress made in Phase 1 Townsend used the example of County Durham and how its coverage has gone from 60% of premises to 98% over the past three years, bringing broadband capable of delivering speeds of 24Mbps and above to 140,000 premises.

Townsend also claimed that County Durham has also seen the numbers of operating SMEs grow by 11% and unemployment rate fall from 8.4% to 2.2%.

Phase 2 of BDUK is scheduled for completion by the end of 2017 and is supposed to take coverage from 90% of UK premises – both residential and business –to 95%.

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