BT Openreach helps Tories deliver on broadband promises

 
Oliver Gill
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The government insisted there was plenty of more work to be done in Britain's broadband upgrade

The government today hailed the closing of Britain's "digital divide", with 95 per cent of UK homes and businesses able to access superfast broadband.

Superfast internet has created 50,000 new local jobs and generated £8.9bn of additional turnover from a rollout between 2013 and 2016, ministers said.

Some 4.5m UK premises previously deemed "not commercially viable" have now been plugged into internet speeds of 24 megabits per second or faster as part of a £1.7bn initiative.

Ministers were particularly pleased about the findings by Thinkbroadband.com given the Conservatives made a manifesto pledge to deliver superfast internet to 19 out of 20 homes and businesses by the end of 2017.

However, digital and culture secretary Matt Hancock said the rollout was far from complete.

"There’s still more to do in our work building a Britain that’s fit for the future," he said.

"We’re reaching thousands more premises every single week, and have committed to making affordable, reliable, high-speed broadband a legal right to everyone by 2020."

Engineers from BT infrastructure arm Openreach worked hard on the run-up to and during Christmas. December was described as "a particularly busy month".

“This is, without doubt, an extraordinary achievement and I’d like to thank the thousands of Openreach engineers and the many more of our people supporting them, who have worked so tirelessly to make this happen," said Openreach chief executive Clive Selley.

Read more: One of London's most popular commuter towns gets ultrafast broadband

"We have come a long way in a short space of time, with one of the fastest broadband deployments in the world. This is an important milestone – but we’re not stopping here. We’re determined to get Britain – the whole of Britain – hooked up to decent broadband speeds."

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