The UK government has announced that an additional 1.85 million premises across 26 English counties will get gigabit broadband as part of its £5 billion package to connect those in rural areas. The government said it brings the total number of premises involved in the project to 2.2 million with more to be announced over the coming months in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
The government-funded gigabit upgrades are expected to start from May next year. The first areas that will benefit from gigabit are Essex, Dorset, Cumbria, Cambridgeshire, Northumberland, Durham, Tyneside, Teesside and Cornwall with other announced locations to receive upgrades after that.
Commenting on today’s development, Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden said:
“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.
This broadband revolution will create jobs, power up businesses and allow everyone to access vital services at lightning-fast speed, helping us build back better from the pandemic.”
As mentioned by the Digital Secretary, it’s hoped that connecting people and businesses to faster internet will help to boost the economy so that the recovery from COVID-19 gets going quicker. In a report last week, Vodafone said that similarly, fast 5G connections could boost manufacturing productivity by a huge £6.3 billion in the UK.
Earlier this year, the government announced that gigabit broadband will be available in 85% of premises by 2025. While getting people in towns and in cities connected is easier for private companies, those out in rural areas are expensive to connect and don’t make much money for the private firms. For this reason, the government has had to step in to provide funding to ensure these areas don’t get left behind.