The UK’s largest altnet has secured £318 million in government to rollout fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) to areas of Hampshire, Norfolk, and Suffolk

The UK government has announced its latest allocations for its flagship broadband funding initiative Project Gigabit, awarding CityFibre £318 million to roll out FTTP to rural areas in Hampshire, Norfolk, and Suffolk.

Coupled with £171 million in private investment, this funding will allow CityFibre to expand its full fibre network to 218,000 additional homes and businesses across the regions, focusing heavily on rural and hard-to reach areas.

“Securing three further Project Gigabit contracts firmly establishes CityFibre as an integral delivery partner to the Government for rural connectivity,” said CityFibre CEO Greg Mesch. “Our growing participation is central to our strategy, optimising our commercial rollout plan alongside the programme to provide our ISP customers with unrivalled network density in regions throughout the country.”

Survey work for the affected areas is expected to begin immediately, with the first installations set to be completed by early 2024. Customers should be able to access services over the infrastructure from the second half of that year.

Alongside these fibre deployments, CityFibre has announced various supporting projects in the local areas, including internships in Norfolk and six months of free internet access for 30 community centres in Suffolk.

Project Gigabit was first launched back in 2021, with the government set to allocate £5 billion in public funding to expand access to gigabit-capable broadband across the UK. At the time of its inception, the goal of the project was to ‘full fibre for all by 2025’ – at least according to then Prime Minister Boris Johnson – but this target has since been downgraded to 85% coverage of gigabit-capable broadband by 2025.

The government now aims to extend these speeds to “as close to 100% [of the population] as possible” by 2030.

With this latest batch of contract allocations, CityFibre is the largest active partner of Project Gigabit, having already been awarded a contract to cover Cambridgeshire back in March.

The altnet is currently planning to rollout full fibre to 8 million UK homes in total by 2025, having passed roughly 2.8 million UK premises at the most recent count. This goal reportedly includes half a million premises in the affected counties of Hampshire, Norfolk, and Suffolk, hence the company will need to pass 283 million additional premises with FTTP without supporting funding from the government.

But while CityFibre celebrates its successful partnership with the government, it is worth noting that Project Gigabit is only just beginning. Prior to awarding these CityFibre contracts, the government had only allocated around £270 million to various broadband projects. Combine this with funding for additional schemes supported by Project Gigabit – such as dark fibre funding for the public sector and the gigabit voucher scheme – and the government still has over £3.5 billion left to divvy up.

With just under 18 months to go until 2025, the remaining funding will need to be allocated soon if it is to have a meaningful impact towards helping the broadband sector reach its target of 85% coverage.

Want to hear more from CityFibre and their role in building Gigabit Britain? Join the operator in discussion at the upcoming Connected Britain conference

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