The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) has officially launched Project Gigabit which will provide £5 billion in additional funding for digital infrastructure in hard-to-reach parts of the UK.
DCMS confirmed that up to 510,000 premises in Cambridgeshire, Cornwall, Cumbria, Dorset, Durham, Essex, Northumberland, South Tyneside and Tees Valley will be the first to benefit. Contracts will go to tender in the spring, with construction work beginning in the first half of 2022.
The next round of procurements will be announced in June 2021 with a focus on Norfolk, Shropshire, Suffolk, Worcestershire, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
The project will prioritise premises which have slow connections and would not be passed by UK broadband companies’ commercial deployments.
DCMS also confirmed
the ‘Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme’ is being relaunched, with up to £210 million made available to provide financial assistance to people in rural areas looking to obtain gigabit-capable connections.
Finally, the Government said it is making up to £110 million available to connect public sector buildings to fibre in hard-to-reach parts of the country.
Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, 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% of homes and businesses now able to access next-generation gigabit speeds, compared to just 9% in 2019.
“Now we are setting out our plans to invest GBP5 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.”