Government launches £200m rural fibre broadband project
Beginning rollout in most difficult areas represents a ‘significant shift in government policy’, culture secretary claims
Credit: Pixabay (image has been amended)
The government has kicked off a £200m two-year programme to help bring full-fibre broadband to the UK’s most remote areas.
About one in 10 properties across the UK are not expected to have commercial access to broadband with a connection speed of one gigabit per second by 2033 – the government’s target date for ubiquitous access to gigabit-capable broadband. Most of these properties are in rural or isolated areas.
To try and ensure that citizens in these areas benefit from the same connection speeds as those in towns and cities, the government is to spend £200m implementing ‘hubs’, in which local public-sector buildings will be equipped with gigabit-capable full-fibre connections.
- Full-fibre primary schools and the Mancunian skills gap – 10 tech announcements you may have missed in the Budget
- Rural broadband often three times slower than neighbouring towns, study reveals
- Thirteen UK cities picked to receive up to £95m for full-fibre rollouts
The government hopes that this will mean that “the surrounding area can become increasingly viable for commercial intervention, stimulating the market to build more networks in these areas”.
The Rural Gigabit Connectivity (RGC) programme will initially focus its efforts in Cornwall, Cumbria, Northumberland, and Pembrokeshire. Some 31 schools across the four counties have been identified as eligible for inclusion, with more buildings – such as NHS sites or community halls – to be added in the coming weeks.
More regions across all four nations of the UK will be announced over the course of the next two years, the government said.
Secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport Jeremy Wright said: “Our decision to tackle some of the hardest to reach places first is a significant shift in government policy and will be instrumental in delivering our plans for a nationwide full-fibre broadband network by 2033. Our rollout of superfast broadband transformed the UK’s digital landscape, and our modern Industrial Strategy is focused on investing in the infrastructure that will make Britain fit for the future.”
Fifteen local projects given until the end of 2021 to conclude rollout
The pandemic has provided a pressing use case for remote consultations but, according to Rowan Pritchard Jones of St Helens and Knowsley NHS trust, the technology has a lot to offer in the long...
Most department staff have remained onsite during pandemic, although some ‘ad hoc’ arrangements have been made
Head of Test and Trace programme Baroness Harding says she does not want to specify a timeframe as projects often do not ‘run in a smooth way’