Government’s £5bn Project Gigabit fund to upgrade internet speed for 1.85 million premises

The government has announced the regions in which up to 1.85m premises in England will see their broadband speeds increased through infrastructure upgrades by the year 2025.

The investment is coming as part of a £5bn package for what the government has called Project Gigabit “to upgrade digital infrastructure in hard-to-reach areas”.

It also forms part of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s focus on firing up “high-growth sectors such as tech and the creative industries” as well as “accelerate the country’s recovery from COVID-19”.

The areas chosen by the government have been selected so they don’t clash with investments already planned by telecoms companies.

Instead, the Project Gigabit fund will be targeted at the so-called “final 20%” of the country where state subsidies are needed for the full-fibre broadband upgrade.

The details published on Monday state that “up to 1,850,000 additional premises across 26 English counties will get access to gigabit speed internet of 1,000 megabits per second – enough to download a HD movie in less than 30 seconds”.

While the government believes this currently takes the total count of premises to 2.2 million, it also warns that the number of premises “may change significantly” before the commercial work begins, the majority of it starting in 2023.

An early target of reaching 100% coverage for full-fibre broadband across the country by 2025 has been dropped to reaching 85% by that date.

When the funds were announced, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Project Gigabit is the rocket boost that we need to get lightning-fast broadband to all areas of the country.

“This broadband revolution will fire up people’s businesses and homes, and the vital public services that we all rely on, so we can continue to level up and build back better from this pandemic,” Mr Johnson added.

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 £5 billion investment and one the quickest rollouts in Europe.

“This broadband revolution will create jobs, power up businesses and allow everyone to access vital services at lightning fast speed, helping us build back better from the pandemic.”

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