Advanced Television

UK broadband investment reaches £1.3bn

April 10, 2024

By Colin Mann

Data reveals that since the start of 2024, the UK Government is boosting access to fast and reliable Internet at an unprecedented speed, putting nearly 380,000 rural premises in line to access a better broadband connection.

The upgrades will give rural communities access to the fastest Internet on the market, helping to grow the economy. Households will be able to download high-definition films in under one minute, stream and download entertainment and shop online across several devices at once. Full fibre broadband will also make it easier for rural residents to set up businesses, increasing local productivity and delivering long-term growth for a brighter future.

Areas set to benefit include Yorkshire, The Isles of Scilly and Dorset, with the funding forming part of the UK Government’s flagship £5 billion Project Gigabit programme.

The funding brings the total invested so far to £1.3 billion (€1.5bn). Nearly 82 per cent of properties across the country can now access lightning-fast broadband, up from just 7 per cent this time five years ago.

It comes as the UK continues to rollout Gigabit broadband faster than any other EU nation, ensuring everyone, no matter where they live or work, can thrive in the 21st century.

“Connectivity has never been more important for people and businesses,” stated Julia Lopez Minister for Data and Digital.” It is increasingly becoming the enabler for so many services that we rely on every day, from using maps to doing business.”

“The figures published today demonstrate how rapidly we are delivering higher quality gigabit broadband to every part of the country – even some of the most remote rural areas.”

“Whether that be for a business on the coast of Cornwall or the hills of the Peak District, patchy and poor connection should never be a barrier to economic growth or somebody’s life chances.”

As part of this year’s investment, the UK Government has also announced £165 million in contracts to build full fibre networks in areas spanning South Yorkshire, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Herefordshire, the Forest of Dean, the Peak District, Dorset and Somerset.

Almost 90,000 premises are set to benefit from the contracts, with full fibre connections capable of delivering speeds of up to 1,000 megabits per second.

Over one million rural homes, businesses and public buildings have already been upgraded to gigabit-capable networks thanks to UK Government investment.

Properties connected through Project Gigabit are in hard-to-reach rural locations, where residents and businesses previously would have struggled to perform basic online tasks because of poor and patchy connection.

On top of this, the Government has awarded separate contracts to connect up to 800 primary schools in England, jointly funded through Project Gigabit and the Department for Education. The Schools Gigabit Connectivity Project will help students and teachers access the latest digital technology in education.

Kevin Monaghan, Chief Commercial Officer of Complete Technology Group, suggests the investment will be misplaced if more attention is not paid to the startling lack of awareness and education for consumers about Full Fibre and what it means. “The Government is, of course , right to invest further in ensuring rural areas have access high-speed broadband. But the return on investment is what counts – can contracts be fulfilled, and will the funding make a significant impact in boosting digital connectivity across the UK.

“A balance must also be struck between rural and urban areas; it’s easy to assume that efforts must be focused on the former to connect hard-to-reach places, but there remain major issues in urban areas where swathes of people still live without reliable broadband. The difficult economic conditions of the past four years – a pandemic, cost-of-living crisis and interest rates spike – have exacerbated the issue, resulting in building works and digital infrastructure projects stalling.

“Digital connectivity is essential for consumers and businesses today, as the Government says, but we must also acknowledge that injecting more money into the broadband rollout will not tackle the lack of awareness that is heavily impacting take-up. Full Fibre, lightning fast, superfast, ultrafast – working directly with landlords and residents, we know that a notable proportion of people are confused by this sort of industry jargon, in turn hindering take-up.

“It’s crucial the Government works with the telecoms sector to implement a nationwide education programme so consumers can make informed decision about broadband services and providers. Simply plumbing in the infrastructure is not enough; digital connectivity will only be achieved when there is greater awareness among consumers on the value it provides, and how to navigate the broadband market with confidence.”

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