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Improving Broadband

The government has made broadband internet provision a policy priority, citing significant benefits to the UK economy. In 2010 the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport launched its Superfast Broadband programme to support the roll out of high speed internet (download speeds of at least 24Mbps) to the hardest to reach areas in the UK. Over 95% of UK premises are now able to access superfast broadband, but access is not consistent across the UK, particularly for rural or remote areas. While superfast broadband is fast enough for most household use today, internet traffic is growing at around 40% each year and the government is now focused on the roll out of gigabit capable speeds on a nationwide basis by 2025 and has pledged £5 billion to tackle the hardest to reach 20% of UK premises.

Through our value for money work, we have seen how major programmes often face challenges in their early stages. We previously reported on the Superfast Broadband programme in 2013 and 2015. This latest study will focus on what the Superfast Broadband Programme has delivered and how the UK’s broadband infrastructure has coped in the face of increased internet traffic during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study will also examine the lessons learned from the Superfast programme and other comparative projects and how the Department could apply these as it establishes its new programme. We will aim to identify any value for money risks in the government’s proposed approach and make recommendations about how to mitigate these.

If you would like to provide evidence for our study please email the study team on enquiries@nao.org.uk, putting the study title in the subject line. The team will consider the evidence you provide; however, please note that due to the volume of information we receive we may not respond to you directly