Technology

Faster broadband gives £9bn boost to business

Digital minister Margot James said an independent assessment of the rollout showed the benefit to local businesses.

Faster broadband has driven a £9 billion increase in turnover for businesses, according to new figures.

The boost has come from the Government rollout of superfast broadband, which the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) confirmed has now reached almost five million homes and businesses.

Digital minister Margot James said an independent assessment of the rollout showed the benefit to local businesses.

She said: “Our rollout of superfast broadband across the UK has been the most challenging infrastructure project in a generation, but is one of our greatest successes.

“We are reaching thousands more homes and businesses every week, that can now reap the clear and tangible benefits that superfast broadband provides.

“We are helping to ensure the downfall of the digital divide.”

Ms James said the target was to ensure everyone in the UK has access to fast and affordable broadband by 2020 and there should be nationwide gigabit connectivity by 2033.

Currently, the highest coverage rate is in North East England (97.19%), followed by South East England (97.07%) and the West Midlands (96.56%).

The lowest coverage level is in Northern Ireland (87.74%), followed by South West England (93.34%) and Scotland (93.53%).

Openreach chief executive Clive Selley said the superfast broadband rollout was one of the country’s great engineering achievements.

“It is great to see businesses across the UK reaping the benefits of faster broadband speeds,” he said.

“We’ve also recently introduced a raft of lower wholesale prices to help drive higher take-up of faster fibre services which will help to further fuel the boost to the UK economy.”

The Evaluation of the Economic Impact and Public Value of the Superfast Broadband Programme report said for every £1 invested in superfast broadband, business had seen a £12.28 benefit.

The report, covering the period 2012-2016, also claimed the rollout had led to a reduction of almost 9,000 jobseeker’s allowance claims and the creation of 49,000 local jobs.

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