Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Project Gigabit update: Funding targets 2.2 million premises

by Harry Baldock, Total Telecom
Monday 02 August 21

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has today announced the regions that will see their broadband improvements to gigabit speeds by 2025

The UK government’s £5 billion Project Gigabit aims to make 1Gbps-capable broadband available to 85% of UK premises by the end of 2025.    Back in March, the government announced the first procurement phase for the Project, aiming to cover around 350,000 premises in parts of Cambridgeshire, Cornwall, Cumbria, Dorset, Durham, Essex, Northumberland…

The UK government’s £5 billion Project Gigabit aims to make 1Gbps-capable broadband available to 85% of UK premises by the end of 2025. 
 
Back in March, the government announced the first procurement phase for the Project, aiming to cover around 350,000 premises in parts of Cambridgeshire, Cornwall, Cumbria, Dorset, Durham, Essex, Northumberland, South Tyneside, and Tees Valley. As part of this announcement, they also allocated £210 million for an extension of the Gigabit Voucher scheme and £110 million to connect around 7,000 rural GP surgeries, schools, and libraries. 
 
Now, the government is updating its plans for Phase 1a, 1b, and 2 of the Project, including naming the next regions that will benefit from the public funding. 
 
In total, the Project is now planning an additional 1.85 million premises to receive gigabit-capable connectivity, increasing the overall scope of the Project to 2.2 million, with more to be announced in the upcoming months. 
 
Areas included in this latest update include Shropshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Worcestershire, Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, Derbyshire, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Lancashire, Surrey, Leicestershire, Warwickshire, Nottinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Staffordshire, Lincolnshire, and Yorkshire.
 
“Project Gigabit is our national mission to level up rural areas by giving them the fastest internet speeds on the market,” said the UK’s minister for digital infrastructure, Oliver Dowden. “Millions more rural homes and businesses will now be lifted out of the digital slow lane thanks to our mammoth £5 billion investment and one the quickest rollouts in Europe.”
 
As part of this announcement, an additional £26 million is being made available to Scotland, Wales, and 15 English councils as part of the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme.
 
In total, around 42% of UK premises currently have access to a gigabit-capable network, with DCMS suggesting this should increase to 60% by the end of the year. The government hopes that commercial network rollouts should increase this number to around 80% by the end of 2025, hence the Project Gigabit funding focusing exclusively on the remaining 20%. This amounts to between five and six million rural and semi-rural premises.
 
DCMS says that the first Project Gigabit contracts (for the previously announced Phase 1a) are expected to be announced in May 2022.
 
 
Is Project Gigabit going far enough to achieve their goal for UK connectivity? Find out how the experts view this and other policy decisions at this year’s live Connected Britain event
 
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