The UK government has announced the first phase of Project Gigabit, an initiative to get more than a million hard to reach homes and businesses connected with next-generation gigabit broadband. The government will spend £5 billion over the whole of Project Gigabit and in the first phase alone up to 510,000 homes and business in several areas of the country will be connected.
The first areas where Project Gigabit will arrive are Cambridgeshire, Cornwall, Cumbria, Dorset, Durham, Essex, Northumberland, South Tyneside, and Tees Valley. Contracts for these first areas will go to tender during the spring with work expected to begin in the first half of next year, preparing those areas for next-generation technologies set to arrive in the coming decade.
The government also said that it expects to announce the next procurements to connect 640,000 more properties in June. The areas included in the June announcement will be Norfolk, Shropshire, Suffolk, Worcestershire, Hampshire, and the Isle of Wight. The government did not give a date for when work in these areas would start.
Commenting on the plans, the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said;
“Project Gigabit is the rocket boost that we need to get lightning-fast broadband to all areas of the country. This broadband revolution will fire up people’s businesses and homes, and the vital public services that we all rely on, so we can continue to level up and build back better from this pandemic.”
The government’s funding will be used on projects that prioritise areas with slower internet speeds and which would have otherwise been excluded from broadband companies’ gigabit rollout plans due to the difficulty of reaching them.