More than one million hard to reach homes and businesses will have next generation gigabit broadband built to them in the first phase of a £5 billion government infrastructure project.
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’.
Their available speeds will rocket to more than 1,000 megabits or one gigabit per second, meaning that families will no longer have to battle over bandwidth and will give people in rural areas the freedom to live and work more flexibly. Contracts for these first areas will go to tender in the spring with spades in the ground in the first half of 2022.
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.
Gigabit broadband is being rolled out rapidly - from one in ten households in 2019 to almost two in five today. The UK is on track for one of the fastest rollouts in Europe and for half of all households to have access to gigabit speeds by the end of this year.
The government says that Project Gigabit will accelerate our recovery from coronavirus, fire up high growth sectors like tech and the creative industries and level up the country, spreading wealth and creating jobs the breadth of Britain.
The successful Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme is also being relaunched with up to £210 million to give people in eligible rural areas immediate financial help to get gigabit speeds. On top of this the government is making up to £110 million available to connect public sector buildings - such as GP surgeries, libraries and schools - in the hardest to reach parts of the UK with this revolutionary infrastructure.
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."