First areas to benefit from £5 billion gigabit broadband upgrade plan announced
The first areas targeted for a £5 billion broadband upgrade have been revealed, with work to start in 2022.
As many as 510,000 homes and businesses long plagued by sluggish broadband will be front of the queue, as part of the Government’s Project Gigabit scheme.
These include Cambridgeshire, Cornwall, Cumbria, Dorset, Durham, Essex, Northumberland, South Tyneside and Tees Valley.
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.
Plans for six more locations – Norfolk, Shropshire, Suffolk, Worcestershire, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight – are set to follow in June, covering a further 640,000 premises.
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%.
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.”
In addition, £210 million worth of vouchers will be available once again from April 8, allowing eligible residents to ask for up to £1,500 and businesses £3,500 towards the cost of installing gigabit-capable broadband.
Some £110 million has been set aside to support GP surgeries, libraries and schools, while the Government also explores how satellite and 5G technology could be used to connect very hard to reach spots, starting with a call for evidence.
The development comes after regulator Ofcom announced that it will not impose price caps on full-fibre connections provided by firms, as part of new rules.
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.”