The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) has published an update on the UK government’s ‘Project Gigabit’ plan, setting out a proposed procurement pipeline for the first and second phases of the project with modelled premises numbers and target timelines to reach communities from Northumberland to Cornwall. In the update, the DCMS revealed that up to 1.85 million additional premises across 26 English counties are now expected to gain access to gigabit-capable broadband connectivity, bringing the current total number of premises in scope for government-funded coverage to 2.2 million, ‘with more still to be announced over the coming months across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland’. Almost half a million (480,000) premises in Shropshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Worcestershire, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight will reportedly be among the first to benefit, followed by counties including Derbyshire, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Lancashire, Surrey, Leicestershire, Warwickshire, Nottinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Staffordshire, Lincolnshire and Yorkshire.
Furthermore, it has now also been confirmed that the Scottish and Welsh governments and 15 English councils have made at least an extra GBP26 million (USD36.1 million) available in top-ups to the UK Government’s Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme. The nationwide scheme covers the costs of a gigabit connection in areas that are particularly difficult to reach, and the top-ups boost the financial help available.
Commenting on the matter, Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden said: ‘Project Gigabit is our national mission to level up rural areas by giving them the fastest internet speeds on the market … Millions more rural homes and businesses will now be lifted out of the digital slow lane thanks to our mammoth GBP5 billion investment and one the quickest rollouts in Europe.’