North East boasts 'highest broadband coverage'
The government has met its target of providing access to superfast broadband to 95 per cent of the UK by the end of 2017.
New figures published by Think Broadband have confirmed that more than 19 out of 20 UK homes and businesses can now upgrade their internet connections to speeds of 24 Mbps or faster following the government's £1.7bn scheme.
It was also revealed that 97.2 per cent of the North East is enjoying unprecedented access to superfast broadband – the highest coverage in the country.
The North West follows only shortly behind with 96 per cent of the region having access to superfast broadband.
DCMS secretary of state Matt Hancock said: "Over the last five years, the government's rollout of superfast broadband has made superfast speeds a reality for more than 4.5 million homes and businesses who would otherwise have missed out.
"We've delivered on our commitment to reach 95 per cent of homes and businesses in the UK, but there's still more to do in our work building a Britain that’s fit for the future.
"We're reaching thousands more premises every single week, and the next commitment is to making affordable, reliable, high speed broadband a legal right to everyone by 2020."
In addition to the day-to-day benefits that superfast speeds offer, this closing of the "digital divide" has also delivered a boost to local economies - creating around 50,000 new local jobs and generating an additional £8.9bn in turnover in the areas covered by the government rollout between 2013 and 2016.
Northern Powerhouse minister Jake Berry added: "The Northern Powerhouse is leading the charge in bridging the rural-urban digital divide. Strong digital infrastructure, including access to superfast broadband, is vital for a flourishing local economy by helping to spur growth and create thousands of new jobs.
"We're doing all we can to bring broadband access to even the most remote and rural areas in the country and are giving businesses the tools they need to meet the demands of the digital age."