“Project Gigabit”- £5 billion Government Infrastructure Project

7th May 2021 Real Estate Commercial

The Government has recently introduced an infrastructure project that will help more than 1 million hard to reach homes and businesses have the benefit of generation gigabit broadband built to them.

What is it?

“Project Gigabit” is a £5 billion Government fund being used to facilitate fast and reliable broadband across the UK. The project is aimed at providing remote properties and businesses with increased broadband speeds. The ultimate objective of the project according to Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden is to “plug in and power up every corner of the UK and get us gigafit for the future” albeit the Government subsequently cut its target to 85 per cent of homes last year.

Why is it important?

The global pandemic and the shift towards “work from home” has without doubt highlighted the importance of good connectivity and broadband for homes and businesses. The Government initiative has the objective of allowing individuals in rural areas to have the freedom to work flexibly. Given the pandemic, robust digital infrastructure is becoming a necessity for individuals and businesses.

The money will go to supplying full-fibre broadband to over a million “hard to reach” homes and offices across the UK. Full-fibre broadband is over 25 times faster than normal fibre broadband (which relies on slower copper phone lines to work). Full-fibre connectivity uses a fibre connection the entire length of the journey meaning no copper wires and increased speed and quality of broadband. The last 12 months and the ongoing “work from home” trends within businesses has certainly underlined the significance of trying to achieve full-fibre connectivity for the whole of the UK.

How will it work?

The Government scheme is taking a phased approach to connecting to remote areas in the UK. The 1st phase of the project will see over a million home and business owners have full-fibre broadband made available. Further, up to 510,000 homes and businesses in Cambridgeshire, Cornwall, Cumbria, Dorset, Durham, Essex, Northumberland, South Tyneside and Tees Valley will be the 1st to benefit with the infrastructure and build due to start in the first half of 2022. Going forward, the aim is to deliver gigabit connectivity to the most commercial 80% of the country by 2025.

In addition to the above, the Government is also investing up to £210 million to build on the success of the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme which was launched in 2018. This scheme allows eligible areas in the UK to claim vouchers to cover installation costs of bringing the gigabit connectivity. Further, up to £110 million is being invested in connecting public buildings, such as rural schools and libraries, to gigabit broadband.

Ultimately, fast and reliable broadband connection has become a vital public service that we all now rely upon every day. Amidst the context of the global pandemic and the continued “work from home” arrangements (which look to be here to stay in some shape or form), it is easy to see why the Government has taken such a proactive approach on the issue. As Prime Minister Boris Johnson said of the scheme: “it is the rocket boost that we need to get lightning-fast broadband to all areas of the country.”

At JMW, our Real Estate Commercial department has a well-established team of experts who are at the forefront of the roll-out of this nationwide project. If you would like to speak to a member of our telecoms, infrastructure and development team about your needs, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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Tom Woodier is a Paralegal located in Manchesterin our Real Estate Commercial department

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