Project Gigabit delivers autumn update
With 57% of homes and businesses now connected to the fastest available broadband speeds, the Project Gigabit Delivery Plan is moving on from Phase 1 delivery to Phase 2 procurements and Phase 3 rural projects covering some of the most hard to reach rural areas in the country.
The DCMS report says it is confident that 85% of the country will enjoy Gigabit coverage by 2025m with 38 telecoms providers delivering up to date information on their progress.
Update on commercial investment
With Openreach and Virgin Media 02s upgrades putting the UK over the 50% mark, other commercial interests have stepped up their full-fibre network ambitions.
City Fibre has announced its intentions to participate in Project Gigabit, raising £1.125bn to rollout full fibre to eight million premises.
Lightspeed Broadband has has been set up to build full fibre networks in remote parts of Eastern and Western England, AtmosClaear Investments and Kompass Kapital are their funding partners. Build Space is pleased to announce that we have partnered with Lightspeed to build out all of their teams across the UK.
Axione Fibre is another alt ISP provider investing £300m to target rural areas, alongside funding announcements by a raft of suppliers including £145m from Broadway Partners and £100m from Zzoom.
Other suppliers have scaled up their plans including Gigaclear (175,000 premises) and Netomnia (50,000 premises). Community projects like StrathspeyNow are also making progress in delivering to hard to reach areas.
This expansion has already created new jobs with Virgin Media 02 adding 400 employees. Collectively, the scale of the announcements demonstrates the sectors ability to deliver Gigabit-capable networks to at least 80% of UK premises by the 2025 target.
Update on delivery plans
Telecoms providers are also extending coverage to areas where public funds are required. These areas are being discovered as part of the Project Gigabit process and the report expects that more will come to light as telecom providers' plans meet delivery challenges or market forces change.
In an effort to meet the needs of areas where commercial plans may have difficulty delivering, the report proposes a series of measures so that no area is left behind.
Space will be given to active voucher projects if they're likely to achieve value for money coverage earlier. Local supplier contracts will be put in place to target government subsidies at the hardest to reach premises, with the first procurements due to begin shortly.
Finally, Regional Suppliers will be appointed to deliver at scale. These contracts include two intervention categories, initial scope and deferred scope. Initial scope contracts will require the regional supplier to build as quickly as possible, while deferred scope contracts will adopt a wait and see approach, depending on whether vouchers or local supplier contracts can meet the need first.
Across the union
In Wales the Superfast Cymru programme, connection of public sector premises including libraries and GP surgeries, and the use of 1,900 vouchers is delivering superfast broadband across the principality.
In Scotland Gigabit coverage is now at 54%, with the UK government investing £33.5m in the Scottish Government's Reaching 100% 'R100' contracts. In addition, over 530 public sector buildings have been connected, futureproofing vital services.
Northern Ireland is leading the way with over 77% of gigabit-capable broadband coverage backed by stimulation from a £35m UK government investment.
Nationwide, the government is also on track to connect around 6,800 public sector buildings including GP surgeries, libraries, leisure centres and fire stations by the end of the year.