Project Gigabit: Will the government hit its target?

Project Gigabit is a mission to deliver lightning-fast broadband across 85% of the UK by 2025. While most Brits will be very happy to embrace ultra-fast broadband, a number of delays to the project mean that the government’s target of 2025 might not be so easy to hit. Let’s take a look at what Project Gigabit is and whether it looks likely to complete in 2025.

What is project Gigabit?

Project Gigabit is a government initiative to provide Gigabit speeds to 85% of premises across the UK by 2025. Gigabit speeds are 1,000 Mbps or 1 Gbps. This means that you could download an HD movie in around 6 seconds instead of 5 minutes and 43 seconds – that’s a big difference! The project is backed by a further goal to extend this connectivity nationwide by 2030.

In comparison to a gigabit, the average UK broadband speed is just 64 Mbps. However, it’s worth noting that the average available broadband speeds in the UK will be much higher than this.

How has Project Gigabit progressed so far?

The government’s Building Digitial UK team released a Project Gigabit update in the form of the Spring 2022 budget. The project is due to cost a total of £5bn, but only £1.2bn of this has been released from the budget up until 2024. The update highlighted that around 68% of UK premises can now access a gigabit-capable network, although this is more due to the fact that Virgin Media have recently upgraded their existing HFC lines.

The government expects that commercial buildings will push gigabit coverage up to around 80% by the end of 2025, with the rest of the target met by Project Gigabyte. The project aims primarily to improve connectivity for rural and semi-rural areas in the final 20% of this figure, which accounts for around 5 to 6 million homes and businesses. A number of schemes are rolling out to help improve connectivity in these regions:

  • Gigabit vouchers
  • Dark fibre funding
  • Gap-funded deployments with suppliers

Previous setbacks to Project Gigabit

The project was originally funded by a public-private partnership, in which the government would pay for infrastructure and the private sector would build out gigabit networks. However, this model failed to produce results due to a lack of interest from ISPs and FCC regulations that made it difficult for cities to get funding.

As a result, the government has had to change its approach; instead of providing grants or loans directly to cities and ISPs, they will provide funds through state governments that can then be used by local communities on projects like affordable housing or broadband access programs.

Is 2025 a realistic target for 85% Gigabit coverage across the UK?

The government is working hard to meet its target to extend gigabit broadband across most of the UK by 2025. With the UK already at 68% coverage, it looks hopeful that the government could meet its target provided commercial clients, developers, and businesses take advantage of the incentives on offer to upgrade connectivity where possible.

To find out if you have access to Gigabit-capable broadband deals already, use our fibre postcode checker to see what is available in your location.

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