Broadband take-up in UK accelerates

21 Dec 2004

More than four million people in the UK have signed up for BT’s broadband services, with the communications company signing up a new customer every 10 seconds. This contrasts with a situation in Ireland whereby only 115,000 people have broadband.

BT revealed this afternoon that at least one million broadband customers have been signed up in the past four months and it is adding on average 8,500 customers a day.

More than 95pc of UK homes and businesses can now receive broadband services and, according to BT, that figure will reach 99.4pc by next summer, putting the UK ahead of any other G7 country in terms of DSL availability.

The four million connections are shared between more than 150 service providers, including BT’s retail operations. There are also an estimated 1.7 million cable broadband customers in the UK.

Ben Verwaayen, BT’s chief executive, said: “We are currently making a new broadband connection at least every 10 seconds, 24/7. We reached three million ADSL connections in August of this year, so to have now reached four million well before Christmas is tremendous news. It shows that the take-up rate for broadband is accelerating apace.”

While the UK’s broadband penetration continues apace, Ireland’s broadband situation is far from resolved. In October, Communications Minister Noel Dempsey TD set the telecoms industry a challenge to have 500,000 people connected to broadband services by year’s end 2006. Within weeks, incumbent operator Eircom said that it has a target of 500,000 homes by the end of 2007.

In related news, Minister Dempsey this morning announced the next phase of the Regional Broadband Programme, whereby some €50m will be invested in broadband infrastructure connecting 35 regional towns and constructing the North-West Digital Corridor link between Letterkenny and Derry.

In a statement this morning, Dempsey said that the projects will “bring ultra high-speed communications links to towns with an aggregate population of more than 160,000.

“With this substantial investment in telecoms infrastructure, coupled with the Department of Communications’ other schemes, I expect to see a significant improvement in the level of services offered throughout the country,” he added.

“On top of my recent announcements launching the Sligo network, the six north-east networks and further Group Broadband Schemes, this is another example of this Government’s commitment to establishing quality broadband infrastructure in every corner of the country, in partnership with the local and regional authorities and industry,” said the minister.

“The department is currently examining a further 10 project proposals received in phase two and an announcement will be made on these in the New Year. The projects in the towns announced today will entail the construction of about 3,200km of duct infrastructure, 200,000km of fibre and an aggregate of €50m investment,” he added.

By John Kennedy