Just 44 postcodes out of 1.7m are using optimum broadband speeds, Ofcom figures show.Analysis of internet speeds suggests that a tiny minority of British households are accessing the “gigabit speed” broadband, which is more than 20 time faster than the current average. The analysis by the Financial Times suggests that there are only 44 postcodes that are accessing average speeds of 1GBit/s, just three of which are in urban areas. The internet speed, seen as the benchmark for fast broadband in the future, is also offered by some providers as “hyperoptic” broadband and outstrips the superfast and ultrafast speeds commonly offered by mainstream internet companies. –– ADVERTISEMENT ––Many of the areas with the fastest broadband in the country are in remote areas, including rural parts of of Lancashire and Oxfordshire. Some northern areas are covered by B4RN, or Broadband for the Rural North, a community-led organisation that offers the fast connection to households in its coverage area for £30 a month. Its area currently covers a portion of the rural north-west, from south of Lancaster to north of Kendal, in the Lake District. Residents installed the cables themselves by digging trenches and pooled their resources in 2011 to fund the project. According to Ofcom, rural areas make up most of the five per cent of homes which are still unable to access superfast broadband, which is usually at speeds of anything up to 80Mb.The Government pledged to ensure that 95 per cent of homes would be able to access these speeds by the end of December last year. In January then-secretary of state for digital culture, media and sport Matt Hancock said the £1.7 billion programme had been successful. The extremely fast gigabit broadband requires fibre optic cables to be laid directly to be the building which is to be connected to the network. This differs from standard superfast broadband, which involves fibre optic cables being laid to the street cabinet with older copper cables making up the rest of the distance to the home. The National Infrastructure Commission has also warned that some rural areas risk being left out of plans to roll out high-speed fibre broadband across the country.The Commission’s report, published earlier this month, also said that copper wires should be switched off within seven years, and a full fibre internet network should be rolled out by 2033. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Last month it urged the Government to subsidise its installation in areas where it is less economically viable for private companies. The Telegraph has been campaigning for better broadband in line with modern business and social requirements which mean it is an indispensible utility.Rural businesses have said they are being held back by an inability to access fast, reliable internet, which limits their ability to set up online shops and communicate with clients and customers. The FT said its data was based on Ofcom’s information and relates to the speeds that households were actually accessing. Openreach said 17.5m homes and businesses were able to upgrade to faster broadband services. However, rural areas are still neglected, with a recent report by the Local Government Association warning that residents outside cities were struggling with slow speeds.
IRAQI HELICOPTER GUNSHIPS struck suspected insurgent positions in Tikrit today.As part of a government offensive to retake the predominantly Sunni hometown of former dictator Saddam Hussein from Sunni militants led by the al-Qaida breakaway Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the Iraqi military launched its push to take back Tikrit. The area is said to be a hotbed of antipathy toward Iraq’s Shiite-led government. Tikrit is one of two major urban centers that fell to insurgents earlier this month during their lightning offensive across the country’s north and west.TikritThe insurgents appeared to have repelled the military’s initial push for Tikrit, and remained in control of the city on Sunday, but clashes were taking place in the northern neighborhood of Qadissiyah, two residents reached by telephone said.Muhanad Saif al-Din, who lives in the city center, said he could see smoke rising from Qadissiyah, which borders the University of Tikrit, where troops brought by helicopter established a bridgehead two days ago. Iraqi army being deployed outside a village near Dallah Abbas north of Baqouba. Source: APHe said many of the militants in Tikrit had deployed to the city’s outskirts, apparently to blunt the military attack.Military spokesman Qassim al-Moussawi told reporters today that the military was in full control of the university and had raised the Iraqi flag over the campus.“The battle has several stages. The security forces have cleared most of the areas of the first stage and we have achieved results,” al-Moussawi said. “It is a matter of time before we declare the total clearing” of Tikrit.A provincial official reached by telephone reported clashes northwest of the city around an air base that previously served as a US military facility known as Camp Speicher.He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to brief the media. Smoke rises during a military operation to regain control of Dallah Abbas north of Baqouba, the capital of Iraq’s Diyala province. Source: APJawad al-Bolani, a security official in the provincial operation command, said the US was sharing intelligence with Iraq and has played an “essential” role in the Tikrit offensive.“The Americans are with us and they are an important part in the success we are achieving in and around Tikrit,” al-Bolani told The Associated Press.TroopsWashington has sent 180 of 300 American troops President Barack Obama has promised to help Iraqi forces. The US is also flying manned and unmanned aircraft on reconnaissance missions over Iraq.Meanwhile, a top Iranian military commander said Tehran was ready to send in any type of military assistance the Iraqi government forces need, including drones.“Iran will never spare any help in any field that Iraq needs, even drones. … We are waiting to help them, in case Iraqi officials ask,” the deputy head of Iran’s armed forces, Gen. Masoud Jazayeri, told the Iranian state-run Arabic-language station, Al Alam TV.None-Arab and mostly Shiite, Iran has been playing the role of guarantor of Shiites in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. It has maintained close ties with successive Shiite-led governments since the 2003 ouster of Saddam Hussein, a Sunni who oppressed the Shiites.U.S. officials said Iran has been flying surveillance drones in Iraq, controlling them from an airfield in Baghdad. A top Iraqi intelligence official said Iran was secretly supplying the Iraqi security forces with weapons, including rockets, heavy machine guns and multiple rocket launchers.Iraq’s government is eager to make progress in Tikrit after weeks of demoralising defeats at the hands of the Islamic State and its Sunni allies. The militants’ surge across the vast Sunni-dominated areas that stretch from Baghdad north and west to the Syrian and Jordanian borders has thrown Iraq into its deepest crisis since US troops withdrew in December 2011.The government received a boost in its battle with the militants with the arrival in Baghdad late Saturday of five Sukhoi 25 warplanes purchased second hand from Russia. The aircraft is designed to provide close air support to ground forces and to destroy mobile targets.Read: Iraq receives delivery of Russian warplanes… but it might not have any pilots to fly them>