rural internet broadband

Half a million UK homes to benefit from rural gigabit broadband roll-out

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Over half a million rural premises will be given access to gigabit broadband, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) has announced.

As part of the Government’s £5bn Project Gigabit initiative, properties in Cheshire, Devon, Dorset, Somerset, Essex, Herefordshire, Gloucestershire, Lincolnshire, East Riding and North Yorkshire will be upgraded.

The 2019 Conservative manifesto promised the installation of full-fibre, gigabit-capable broadband in every home and business across the UK by 2025. This pledge was later downgraded to just 85 per cent of premises in the UK, with MPs questioning whether even this target was achievable considering the current speed of the roll-out.

The new roll-out has been positioned by DCMS as a way to accelerate the country’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic in the hope that it will provide a boost to high-growth sectors like tech and the creative industries.

It also could help people living in those areas to start and run businesses online or provide a boost to home workers, whose numbers increased massively in 2020.

The Government has already announced measures to provide broadband to up to 234,000 hard-to-reach premises in Wales alongside an additional £150m through Project Stratum to speed up areas suffering from slow speeds.

Digital secretary Nadine Dorries said: “The latest stage of our £5bn Project Gigabit plan will help hard-to-reach homes and businesses out of the broadband slow lane and plug them into the fastest and most reliable connections available.”

The Government is subsidising the roll-out of new infrastructure to the properties; they were chosen because they are not currently due for a gigabit upgrade from broadband companies or other public schemes.

The specific locations to benefit in the areas announced today will be named when the contracts to deliver the connections are out to tender.

At present, the UK has 57 per cent coverage, up from less than 6 per cent in 2019, according to DCMS.

The latest announcement comes a week after plans were unveiled to improve internet speeds in Scottish households by providing vouchers worth up to £3,500 for small and medium sized businesses and up to £1,500 for residential premises to get them connected to commercial providers.

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