Northumberland has been chosen as one of the first areas to benefit from “Project Gigabit” – the Government’s plan to connect the nation – including harder to reach areas – to fast, reliable broadband. Procurement will open in November 2021 for an estimated £24-40 million contract to connect an estimated 26,600 non-commercial properties to gigabit-capable broadband, with work projected to start in October 2022.
Speaking of the announcement, Berwick-upon-Tweed MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan said:
“Campaigning for better broadband connections for our rural and harder to reach communities in Northumberland has been one of my key priorities since I was first elected in 2015. It is so vital to education, businesses and families. The pandemic has heightened that need, as more of us are able to work from home. I am thrilled that ministers are listening to me and my Northumberland colleagues, and that Northumberland will be in the first tranche of this exciting new project.
“Upgrading Northumberland’s digital infrastructure to enable us to connect to world-class broadband and 4G mobile connectivity is opening up infinite possibilities for our society and regional economy.”
Up to 510,000 homes and businesses in Cambridge, Cornwall, Cumbria, Dorset, Durham, Essex, Northumberland, South Tyneside and Tees Valley will be the first to benefit and will see their speeds rise to more than 1,000 megabits per second. This means that families will no longer have to battle over bandwidth and will give people in rural areas the freedom to live and work more flexibly.
The Chancellor made a £5 billion commitment to support the roll-out of gigabit-capable broadband to the hardest to reach areas of the UK, which has recently been launched this week as Project Gigabit. In the 2020 Spending Review, £1.2 billion of this amount has been allocated, which will be essential in an increasingly digital age for supporting the whole of the UK economy. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport continues to work closely with industry to develop this programme and accelerate the UK’s year-on-year roll-out plans to bring forward additional spending, wherever possible.
The Government is working with industry to target a minimum of 85 per cent gigabit-capable coverage by 2025, with the ambition to accelerate roll-out further to get as close to 100 per cent as possible.
Ms Trevelyan was keen to remind residents that they can take advantage of the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme, which is being relaunched with up to £210 million to give people in eligible rural areas immediate financial help to get gigabit speeds. The new vouchers, worth up to £1,500 for residents and up to £3,500 for businesses, will mean that rural areas will not have to wait for supplier contracts under Project Gigabit to reach them.
Full details of Project Gigabit: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1007788/Project_Gigabit__Summer_Update_Accessible_PDF_2_Aug_2021__1_.pdf
Further information and guidance on eligibility of the Gigabit voucher scheme: https://www.gov.uk/business-finance-support/gigabit-broadband-voucher-scheme-gbvs-uk