Up to 510,000 homes and businesses in Cambridgeshire, Cornwall, Cumbria, Dorset, Durham, Essex, Northumberland, South Tyneside and Tees Valley will be the first to benefit as part of ‘Project Gigabit’.
It comes after the government had to row back on its election pledge of providing the UK with full-fibre broadband by 2025, instead aiming for at least 85 per cent.
In June the government expects to announce the next procurements to connect up to 640,000 premises in Norfolk, Shropshire, Suffolk, Worcestershire, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
The government-funded projects will prioritise areas that currently have slow connections and which would otherwise have been left behind in broadband companies’ rollout plans.
Firms will be able to bid for contracts on the project from spring, with “spades in the ground” in the first half of 2022, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said. One gigabit is the equivalent of 1,000 megabits, capable of downloading a high definition film in under a minute.
Says Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden said:
“Project Gigabit is our national mission to plug in and power up every corner of the UK and get us gigafit for the future.
“We have already made rapid progress, with almost 40 percent of homes and businesses now able to access next-generation gigabit speeds, compared to just 9 percent in 2019. Now we are setting out our plans to invest £5 billion in remote and rural areas so that no one is left behind by the connectivity revolution.”
“That means no more battling over the bandwidth, more freedom to live and work anywhere in the country, and tens of thousands of new jobs created as we deliver a game-changing infrastructure upgrade.”
Adds Rocio Concha, Director of Policy and Advocacy at consumer association Which?:
“This year has highlighted the importance of fast and reliable broadband, so it’s good to see the government prioritise areas which have suffered for too long with poor internet connections.
“The government should clarify when these communities will actually be able to benefit from these connections, as consumers are relying on the internet more than ever and improving connectivity will play an important role as we recover from the pandemic.”
You can see the Government’s Project Gigabit YouTube promotion below: