The UK's Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has revealed how it will carve up an additional £250 million investment into "superfast broadband" that was first announced in the June 2013 spending review.
England will get £184.34 million, Wales will get £12.11 million, Scotland will get £20.99 million and Northern Ireland will get £7.24 million. This is in addition to the £1.2 billion already invested by central and local government in superfast broadband (deemed to be anything over 24Mbps) across the UK.
“Superfast Broadband will benefit everyone – whether they need it for work, to do homework or simply to download music or films. Thousands of homes and businesses now have access and it is helping people with their everyday tasks," said Culture Secretary Maria Miller.
"We want to make sure that Britain is one of the best countries in the world for broadband, and the extra £250m we are investing will help ensure communities around the UK are not left behind in the digital slow lane.”
The nationwide rollout is a part of the government’s long-term economic plan to provide access to superfast broadband to 95 percent of the UK population by 2017.
The government claims that the current rural programme will deliver returns of £20 for every £1 invested, in addition to improvements in the productivity of broadband enabled firms.
However, an academic study by researchers at Plymouth University showed that superfast broadband can just about benefit businesses in Cornwall when they received the higher internet speeds.
The government also claims that faster broadband will create an additional 56,000 jobs in the UK by 2024, and predicts the work involved in the current roll out will provide a £1.5 billion boost to local economies, with approximately 35,000 job-years created or safeguarded over the period to 2016. By 2024, it believes its current investments in faster broadband will be boosting rural economies by £275 million every month, or around £9 million every day.
The DCMS has faced criticism for its Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) scheme because all the money available under the initiative has been allocated to BT and many argue that it is too bureaucratic.
A report by the Public Accounts Committee in October highlighted that BT has been placed in a "quasi-monopolistic position".
"All of the 26 contracts let by June 2013 had gone to BT and the remaining 18 are likely to follow suit," said Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts. "The consumer is failing to get the benefits of healthy competition and BT will end up owning assets created from £1.2bn of public money."
Last December, the government announced it was going to support companies developing next-generation rural broadband technologies with £10 million.