The government's efforts to roll out superfast broadband access to as much of the UK has possible has led to major economic benefits, with firms seeing an overall increase in turnover of £9 billion as a result of faster connectivity.
This is according to a new report from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), which revealed that, for every £1 invested in high-speed broadband by the government and local authorities, businesses have seen a return of £12.28, while the UK economy has seen a £690 million net increase in Gross Value Added.
Coverage of superfast broadband – defined by the government as availability of speeds of at least 24Mbps – now stands at 95.39 per cent of the UK. DCMS added that its programme has brought this connectivity to more than five million homes and businesses that would otherwise have been deemed as commercially unviable for investment.
Minister for digital Margot James said the rollout of high-speed connectivity throughout the UK has been the most challenging infrastructure project for a generation, but the results show it has been a huge success.
"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," she continued.
Over the next few years, more than a million premises that are currently out of reach of superfast broadband are expected to be connected, bringing overall coverage to 98 per cent.
The benefits of this will go beyond improved turnover for businesses. DCMS' report also claimed that 49,000 local jobs have been created as a direct result of better connectivity, with 9,000 fewer individuals claiming jobseekers allowance, including a reduction in the number of long-term claimants by 2,500 in programme areas.
Chief executive of Openreach Clive Selley added: "It is great to see businesses across the UK reaping the benefits of faster broadband speeds and I'm proud of the leading role that Openreach has played in helping to deliver the government's rollout of superfast broadband – one of Britain’s great engineering achievements."