The UK government’s £5 billion ($5.9 billion) Project Gigabit scheme, the first major subsidy deal, has been officially awarded, with Wessex Internet receiving £6 million ($7 million) to connect remote properties in southwest England with high-speed broadband.
In a fast-paced world Remote work In the past two years, the need for widespread superfast broadband has become more apparent than ever. People no longer only worry about stuttering Netflix-streaming, but they can’t keep up with their work’s virtual workplace via Zoom, Slack, and other cloud applications. However, many homes and businesses—especially those in rural areas—are not adequately served by high-speed Internet, putting them at a disadvantage compared to those around cities and other major highways.
While the major Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the UK provide gigabit speed internet services to millions of people in urban areas, delivering full fiber optic broadband to people in remote areas is often cost-prohibitive. Comparing how much revenue you can get back by deploying infrastructure. That’s why the UK government announced the Gigabit Project in March 2021 – it’s looking to plug gaps in these hard-to-reach places, allowing people to work from anywhere and startups to think about setting up shop far away from conventional cities.
Indeed, new data from Thinkbroadband suggests that 70% of the UK currently has gigabit internet access, but the government has announced plans to increase that coverage to 85% by 2025. Project Gigabit grants will be crucial to those plans.
In its announcement last year, the government initially targeted more than 1 million homes and businesses, half of which would be in Cambridgeshire, Cornwall, Cumbria, Dorset, Durham, Essex, Northumberland, South Tyneside and the Tees Valley. Wessex Internet ISP, which focuses on bringing fast broadband to rural areas in Dorset, Wiltshire and South Somerset, has now been given £6m to connect 7,000 properties by 2025, with the first home in the region expected to go online under gigabit. Connection by the end of 2022.
UK Digital Secretary Nadine Dorries said in a statement: “The benefits of better broadband connections cannot be overstated and this means people living in rural areas can enjoy 21st century speeds at home and at work.”
Today’s announcement is expected to kick off a handful of similar contracts in the coming months, with an estimated $690 million in purchases of nearly half a million homes expected to be announced by the end of the year.
England is not the only country where government subsidies are being used to connect remote areas. In the US, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has earmarked $5 billion for rural broadband providers over the next decade.
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