Gov Awards Six New UK Project Gigabit Broadband Build Contracts

The Government has this morning announced a mass of additional contract awards under their £5bn Project Gigabit broadband rollout programme, which includes builds for West Herefordshire and the Forest of Dean, the Peak District, Dorset and South Somerset, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly and finally, Mid West Shropshire.

The above announcements are in addition to Quickline’s success in securing the £44m Project Gigabit contract to deploy a full fibre network across 32,100 additional premises in hard to reach rural areas of South Yorkshire (Lot 20), which was also announced this morning (here). We got an earlier press release on that one, so it was covered separately.

NOTE: Nearly 82% of UK premises can already access gigabit speeds (up from over 72% at the end of 2022), which drops to around 65% when only looking at full fibre (up from 45%).

Just to recap. The project itself aims to help extend 1Gbps (download) capable broadband networks to reach at least 85% of UK premises by the end of 2025, before aiming to achieve “nationwide” coverage (c. 99%) by 2030 (here). Commercial investment is expected to deliver more than 80% of this, which leaves the government’s scheme to focus on helping to tackle some of the final 20% (mostly rural and some sub-urban areas), where the private sector alone often fails. The project is technology neutral, but Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) is strongly favoured.

The project uses a number of different methods to tackle this challenge (e.g. vouches and investment in dark fibre builds), but the largest part of the scheme involves a gap-funded subsidy approach – the Gigabit Infrastructure Subsidy (GIS). This is where smaller local, larger regional or major cross-regional contracts are awarded to network operators who can help to build their gigabit-capable infrastructure into the most challenging areas (final 20%).

At this point, we’d normally do detailed individual summaries of each announcement, but that simply isn’t practical with so many contract awards being announced on the same day. Instead, we’ve summarised today’s headline developments below.

The New Project Gigabit Contract Awards

West Herefordshire and the Forest of Dean (Lot 15)

FullFibre awarded £23.4 million to connect 7,900 premises

Peak District (Lot 3.01)

FullFibre awarded £10.7 million to connect 4,400 premises

Dorset and South Somerset (Lot 14)

Wessex Internet awarded £33.5 million to connect 21,400 premises

Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly (Lot 32)

Wildanet awarded £41.2 million to connect 16,800 premises

Mid West Shropshire (Lot 25.01)

Voneus awarded £12 million to connect 6,000 premises.

In total, the six new contracts being announced today will cover around 88,600 rural premises – reflecting a combined public investment of £165 million – pushing total investment across all of Project Gigabit’s UK build contracts to £1.3bn (£714m of that has been invested in the last year alone, equating to 380,000 premises).

Over 1 million rural premises and public buildings have already been upgraded to gigabit-capable networks thanks to UK Government investment, but this is only if you include FTTP deployments that also occurred under the prior “Superfast Broadband” (SFBB) programmes. By comparison, most of Project Gigabit’s early contracts have only recently entered the build phase and thus still account for the minority of this total.

Julia Lopez, Minister for Data and Digital, said:

“Connectivity has never been more important for people and businesses. It is increasingly becoming the enabler for so many services that we rely on every day, from using maps to doing business.

The figures published today demonstrate how rapidly we are delivering higher quality gigabit broadband to every part of the country – even some of the most remote rural areas.

Whether that be for a business on the coast of Cornwall or the hills of the Peak District, patchy and poor connection should never be a barrier to economic growth or somebody’s life chances.”

At the time of writing, we currently only have a very basic government summary of the new contracts and their targets (except for Quickline’s South Yorkshire win). But later this morning we’ll add extra details for each one above as they’re made public, such as which initial locations they’ll target and any related build timescales etc.

Project Gigabit GIS Contract Awards History
➤ Wessex Internet for North Dorset (Lot 14.01) in August 2022 (here)
➤ GoFibre for Teesdale (Lot 4.01) in September 2022 (here)
➤ GoFibre for North Northumberland (Lot 34.01) in October 2022 (here)
Fibrus for Cumbria (Lot 28) in November 2022 (here)
➤ Wildanet for Central Cornwall (Lot 32.03) and South West Cornwall (Lot 32.02) in January 2023 (here)
➤ CityFibre for Cambridgeshire (Lot 5) in March 2023 (here)
➤ Wessex Internet for the New Forest (Lot 27.01) in April 2023 (here)
➤ Freedom Fibre for North Shropshire (Lot 25.02) in May 2023 (here)
➤ CityFibre for Norfolk (Lot 7), Suffolk (Lot 2) and Hampshire (Lot 27) in July 2023 (here)
➤ Gigaclear for South Oxfordshire (Lot 13.01) and North Oxfordshire (Lot 13.02) in Nov 2023 (here)
➤ Connect Fibre for North East Staffordshire (Lot 19.01) in Nov 2023 (here)
➤ Connect Fibre for Derbyshire (Lot 3) in Dec 2023 (here)
➤ CityFibre for Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire & East Berkshire (Lot 26), Leicestershire & Warwickshire (Lot 11), West & East Sussex (Lot 16 & 1), Kent (Lot 29) and Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire & Milton Keynes (Lot 12) in Feb 2024 (here)
Connexin for Nottinghamshire & West Lincolnshire (Lot 10) in Feb 2024 (here)
➤ Quickline for West Yorkshire and York Area (Lot 8) in Feb 2024 (here)
➤ Gigaclear for East Gloucestershire (Lot 18) in Feb 2024 (here)
➤ Wessex Internet for South Wiltshire (Lot 30) in Mar 2024 (here)
➤ Quickline for South Yorkshire (Lot 20) in Apr 2024 (here)
➤ FullFibre for West Herefordshire and the Forest of Dean (Lot 15) in Apr 2024
➤ FullFibre for Peak District (Lot 3.01) in Apr 2024
➤ Wessex Internet for Dorset and South Somerset (Lot 14) in Apr 2024
➤ Wildanet for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly (Lot 32) in Apr 2024
➤ Voneus for Mid West Shropshire (Lot 25.01) in Apr 2024

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