If the coalition achieves this ambitious target then the UK will have the best broadband network in Europe, with speeds of at least 24Mbps (Megabits per second) being available to every home.
That compares to 5.2Mbps, which is the average broadband speed at the moment, according to an Ofcom report from May.
Some people have accused the coalition of failing to meet the previous government’s ambitions for every home to have broadband access 2012.
However, the coalition insists this is not a delay. Instead, it claims the bar is being set higher and that superfast internet is the priority if the UK is to keep up with the rest of the world.
Under the new strategy, most of the investment will be made by the private sector, with the government subsiding investment in harder-to-reach areas like the countryside.
Why do we need superfast broadband?
The way the country uses the internet is changing. It used to be that the web was used for fairly basic, low data tasks, such as sending emails.
However, now 70% of UK households have broadband and many are using those connections to play complex online games against their friends, to download music and films and to stream video directly from websites like BBC iPlayer and 4 On Demand.
The UK demand for bandwidth has never been so high, and the existing infrastructure is struggling to keep up. That’s one reason why you may have noticed your internet connection going more slowly during peak times.
Aren’t providers rolling out superfast broadband now?
Yes, both BT and Virgin are offering some areas of the UK superfast broadband already.
Virgin has been laying down a whole new network of fibre-optic cables and can offer some homes download speeds as high as 50Mbps, while BT announced earlier this year that it could now offer some households speeds of 40Mbps.
At the moment, almost 50% of homes have access to a superfast broadband service if they want to take it up – and contracts are available for as little as £12.50 a month.
Do I need superfast broadband?
If you are one of the homes able to connect to a superfast broadband service, you’ll probably find it is more expensive than your current connection.
So give some thought to what you use the internet for – if your family plays online computer games or streams high-definition content from the web then a superfast service could be of real benefit.
Having said that, if your current connection meets your needs then it may not be worth paying more.
Of course, some people pay much more than they need to for a basic broadband package. Compare deals from UK broadband providers and you could find you can easily afford to switch to a faster service. Watch our video ‘How to switch broadband provider’ to see just how easy it is to move.
How else can I speed up my broadband?
Reading this is probably pretty frustrating if you’re one of the people without superfast broadband access who needs a faster connection.
There are few things more annoying than a film repeatedly stopping to buffer, or being kicked out of an online game because of your lag.
Even more annoying is that many people do not get the speeds they are promised when they sign up to a new deal.
You can test the broadband speed you’re receiving through the moneysupermarket.com site, although run a few tests at different times as the speed you receive can vary.
If your speeds are consistently not up to scratch then speak to your provider and ask for help speeding it up. Some slow connections are caused by electrical equipment and it can sometimes be possible to fix your broadband speeds by fitting special filters to your phone sockets.
Don’t hesitate to switch if your provider cannot offer you the speed it promised. Most internet service providers have signed up to a code of practice that protects customers when they are unhappy about the speeds they are receiving.
It means they must:
- Give customers an accurate estimate of the maximum speed available to them at the point of sale
- Resolve technical issues that are hampering speed
- Allow customers to move onto a lower speed package if they cannot receive the headline speed
- Provide customers with information on their usage limits and inform them if they go over