Do you have superfast broadband? Hopefully, the answer is yes, with official figures revealing that four out of five UK properties can now access superfast speeds – and some two million homes and businesses have benefitted in the last two years.
The figures come from the Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) and show that an additional 40,000 homes and businesses are now getting access to superfast speeds – those that are greater than 24Mbps – every single week. The rollout is part of the Government's £1.7bn investment and is on track to deliver superfast access to 95% of the UK by 2017.
Currently, 80% of the country's properties can access this kind of service, meaning the UK leads the EU 'big five' nations when it comes to superfast access and take-up. It's committed to delivering such speeds to properties not covered by existing commercial networks, and is focusing its efforts on tackling the hardest-to-reach areas of the UK. Doing so could help drive growth in rural communities, it said in a statement, and will benefit these economies by around £9m every day thanks to work being carried out.
Culture Secretary Sajid Javid commented: "Today there are two million more UK homes and businesses with access to superfast broadband than there were two years ago as a result of this ambitious project. This is a tremendous result that is already making a huge difference to millions of people. We want everyone in the UK to be able to enjoy the benefits of superfast broadband, that's why we've begun work on reaching the last 5% of communities not covered by existing plans."
However, despite the progress made so far, there's still work to be done to ensure everyone can truly benefit from the superfast rollout. Many people still feel that superfast is too expensive for them, even with the huge range of deals currently available, while others simply don't think it's worth switching.
Dominic Baliszewski, telecoms expert at broadbandchoices, commented: "Superfast broadband is going to become indispensable over the next five to 10 years as households will consume greater quantities of data through a combination of skyrocketing tablet ownership, video streaming – particularly if and when 4K TV takes off – and even the so-called 'internet of things.'
"Yet making fibre available is only half the battle; the DCMS also needs to spend time ensuring people know they can access these services and encouraging them to make the switch. Many [people still] believe fibre is far too expensive for them, while others have become jaded by the unreliability of ADSL (copper wire/standard broadband) and don't believe they will see any improvement by switching.
"Fibre is more affordable today than when it was first introduced, but Ofcom and providers must work together to bring down prices further to aid adoption. With line rental creeping up in recent years, some are finding that any savings made on broadband have been wiped out by the soaring cost of their line rental.
"Ultimately, the Government has promised to ensure everyone can get superfast broadband, so reaching the final 5% of households should be the top priority now. They have been excluded for long enough and deserve to enjoy all the benefits – social, economic, educational – that it can bring."
So, do you have access to superfast broadband? If so, and you haven't taken advantage yet, it's time to make the switch! Doing so will mean you can get a far more reliable connection that's quicker than ever before, and it could make the world of difference to your internet experience. It needn't cost a fortune, either – use our comparison tool to see the kind of deals on offer, and find out if you could make the most of superfast speeds.
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