Government launches new £5bn ‘Project Gigabit’
Government has committed that more than one million hard to reach homes and businesses will have next generation gigabit broadband built to them in the first phase of a £5 billion government infrastructure project.
Key Project objectives are as follows:
-First areas to benefit from £5bn government funding for fastest broadband connections to help recovery from the pandemic, growth and leveling up have been announced
-Extra £210m worth of vouchers released to help those with slow speeds
-£110m to connect up to 7,000 rural GP surgeries, libraries and schools
-First Areas to Benefit as part of ‘Project Gigabit’
More than one million hard to reach homes and businesses will achieve next generation gigabit broadband in the first phase of a £5 billion government infrastructure project.
The first areas identified to benefit are as follows and covers up to 510,000 homes and businesses
-South Tyneside and Tees Valley
Their available speeds will rocket to more than 1,000 megabits or one gigabit per second. It means families no longer having to battle over bandwidth and will give people in rural areas the freedom to live and work more flexibly. Contracts for these first areas will go to tender in the spring with spades in the ground in the first half of 2022.
The next project announcement will be in June 2021 and will be to connect up to 640,000 premises in Norfolk, Shropshire, Suffolk, Worcestershire, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
The priority will be areas that currently have slow connections and would otherwise get left behind by broadband companies roll out plans.
Currently Gigabit broadband is being rolled out rapidly at a rate of 1 in 10 households in 2019 and 2 in 5 as of today. The UK is on track to have one of the fastest rollout in Europe and for half of all households to have access to gigabit speeds by end of 2021
The aim is for Project Gigabit to accelerate our recovery from COVID – firing up high growth sectors and leveling up the country – spreading wealth and creating jobs. In 2019 22,000 jobs were created in the broadband industry alone.
The Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme has also been relaunched with up to £210 million to give people in eligible rural areas immediate financial assistance to get gigabit speeds. The scheme offers vouchers worth up to £1500 for residents and up to £3500 for businesses and went live 8th April 2021. Although the majority of rural premises will remain eligible, in order to ensure support is targeted to those that need it most, it is proposed that those likely to receive a gigabit-capable connection through broadband suppliers as part of their commercial network plans WILL NOT qualify.
Figures are not currently available of take up of last voucher as they had a 12 month validity period.
Use this link to check your eligibility https://gigabitvoucher.culture.gov.uk/.
Use this link to see what connectivity is currently available to you: https://comparefibre.co.uk/
The government is also making up to £110 million available to connect public sector buildings – such as GP surgeries, libraries ad schools. The idea is to help GPs provide remote video consultations and allow whole classes of school children to be on line at once without interruptions.
There is also an aim to connect up to 7000 rural public buildings to act as hubs to get gigabit-capable networks into the heart of rural communities – this will then incentivise broadband companies to build of off these. After all broadband connectivity is now seen very much as one of households key utilities along with electricity, gas, water and sewage.