These UK regions will be the next to receive gigabit broadband under government plans

Work on the connections is expected to start in early 2024

Landscape photograph of the English countryside

The UK government has unveiled the latest regions that will be able to access download speeds of 1,000 Mbps as part of the £5 billion Project Gigabit.

An estimated 567,000 homes and businesses across Cheshire, Devon, Dorset, Somerset, Essex, Herefordshire, Gloucestershire, Lincolnshire, East Riding, and North Yorkshire have been named as those falling into the next stage of the rollout.

Procurement for broadband companies will begin in 2023, with work to build these connections expected to start in early 2024. This means customers may have to wait until late 2024 before they can take advantage of the faster speeds.

The UK has now reached 57% gigabit coverage, up by 7% since hitting the 50% milestone on 21 September. This places the UK firmly on track to reach 85% coverage by 2025, after a notably slow start – in 2019, the country’s gigabit coverage was only at 6%.

However, the project’s success will depend on the ability to roll out gigabit broadband in rural, hard-to-reach areas, with the cost of digging up roads and land being named as the biggest obstacle faced by telecoms companies. In August, the government called on the UK’s innovators to find ways to feed fibre optic cables through water pipes to help speed up the rollout to rural areas.

Apart from the ten English regions announced today, the next phase will also include 3,600 Scottish homes and businesses located in Aberdeenshire, Angus, the Highlands, Moray, and Perth & Kinross, as part of a £8 million cash injection announced by chancellor Rishi Sunak on Wednesday.

The Scottish premises were expected to gain access to 30Mbps broadband through the Scottish government’s Reaching 100% (R100) programme. However, due to a new agreement between the UK and Scottish governments, the six regions will now be able to benefit from gigabit-capable broadband instead.

The areas announced today follow the 18 English regions that were named in August 2021. Shropshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Worcestershire, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight were among the first to be included, followed by counties including Derbyshire, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Lancashire, Surrey, Leicestershire, Warwickshire, Nottinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Staffordshire, Lincolnshire, and Yorkshire.

The first phase of Project Gigabit was announced in March 2021, and included thousands of premises across Cambridgeshire, Cornwall, Cumbria, Dorset, Durham, Essex, Northumberland, South Tyneside, and Tees Valley, with infrastructure work set to begin in the first half of 2022.

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