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Gov Awards Six New UK Project Gigabit Broadband Build Contracts UPDATE2

Wednesday, Apr 10th, 2024 (12:01 am) - Score 2,800
Project-Gigabit-Quarterly-Update-stats-for-2024

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.

UPDATE: The first premises under this contract are anticipated to have access to gigabit-capable broadband by the end of 2024. Areas such as Hay-on-Wye, Hereford, Kingstone, Ewyas Harold and Ross-on-Wye will benefit.

Peak District (Lot 3.01)

FullFibre awarded £10.7 million to connect 4,400 premises.

UPDATE: Around 87 towns and villages across the area will benefit, such as Matlock, Birchover, Buxton, Ashover and communities in the Hope Valley.

Dorset and South Somerset (Lot 14)

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

UPDATE: Construction is expected to start towards the end of 2024. In Dorset, the new contract includes villages and hamlets around Swanage and the Isle of Purbeck, and rural communities near to Dorchester, Sherborne and Beaminster. In South Somerset, it encompasses rural areas close to Crewkerne and Ilminster along its western boundary, with Glastonbury, Shepton Mallet and Bruton on its north-eastern edge.

Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly (Lot 32)

Wildanet awarded £41.2 million to connect 16,800 premises.

UPDATE: The towns and villages to benefit from this latest funding will stretch from Bude to Looe in the east of the county, and from Portreath to the Helford River in the west. Initial work on network planning and surveys will start soon and installation works are expected to get under way in Autumn 2024. The first premises under this contract are anticipated to have access to gigabit-capable broadband in 2025.

Areas set to benefit include: Bude, Callington, Camborne, Constantine, Coxford, Crantock, Falmouth, Gunnislake, Kilkhampton, Launceston, Leedstown, Liskeard, Looe, Lostwithiel, Mitchell, North Tamerton, Newquay, Pensilva, Perranporth, Polyphant, Redruth, St Germans, St Mary’s on the Isles of Scilly, St Mawes, Stithians, Threemilestone, Torpoint, Tregony, Truro and Widemouth.

Mid West Shropshire (Lot 25.01)

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

UPDATE: The first premises under this contract are anticipated to have access to gigabit-capable broadband in 2025. The network will be rolled out across large areas of rural Shropshire, including Alberbury, Westbury, Snailbeach, Wentnor, Ford, Hanwood, Longden, Dorrington, Leebotwood and Bicton.

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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Mark-Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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Comments
11 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Disgruntled of Dankshire says:

    Interesting as now in Dankshire we have a voucher based enterprise rodding & ropeing like crazy, anothe one getting taxpayer funds, and no doubt OR will wakeup and try to improve on their 2026 planned date to beat the altnets.
    Why oh why so much duplication of effort?
    Why not a central fibre infrastructure provider with share holder investment?
    Why didnt it happen twenty years ago?

    1. Avatar photo Ivor says:

      same in Cornwall. I know the claim is that funding is directed at addresses where no one else (ie Openreach) is going to build in the next couple of years, but realistically it’s not likely that OR won’t be doing so within the decade, especially where you see the sorts of places where they *have* done unsubsidised FTTP.

    2. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      “Why oh why so much duplication of effort?”

      The approach taken looks at existing commercial plans out to the next 3 years. So if no commercial operators have announced gigabit build plans within that scope, then BDUK cannot factor in what they cannot yet see. Commercial providers can of course extend their plans after BDUK contracts have been awarded, but that’s up to them and is always a risk.

      “Why not a central fibre infrastructure provider with share holder investment?”

      That is an infrastructure monopoly, which is a whole other nightmarishly complex debate, as it doesn’t really work in today’s market where large competitive infrastructure providers already exist and there’s a mass of inward private investment occurring to help deploy full fibre.

    3. Avatar photo XGS says:

      No property being served by vouchers or Openreach by 2026 is getting funded by Project Gigabit. They aren’t eligible. Any duplication is at the company building the network’s own cost.

  2. Avatar photo Me says:

    To me I think this is a failure, these companies don’t invest in some areas until they get government money to do so, meanwhile other companies do invest in those same areas. That’s how it’s been for me. The company in this list was going to give me fibre, then pulled it citing commercial reasons, nothing to do with the fact someone else was laying fibre to the same homes and they charged half the price for their service compared to the company in this list, and they didn’t rely on government money either. Seems some have a business model of getting the tax payer to fund their profits.

    1. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Location, operators, which ones were using public funding etc? More details pls.

    2. Avatar photo XGS says:

      Potentially the company you’re talking about based its business case around being the only company offering FTTP for a while and their prices are high as they focus on areas that are more expensive to build to. A larger company rocking up able to subsidise the cost of your build with much lower cost build nationwide and, hence, able to charge much less wipes out their business case.

    3. Avatar photo Ben says:

      > meanwhile other companies do invest in those same areas

      The funding is only available for areas where there are no plans for the next 3 years…

    4. Avatar photo Me says:

      @Mark Jackson, I’d rather not name names. But I was in discussion with the provider in your list. Their checker said I would be able to have FTTP from them soon as they are building towards me, I saw them in the area doing some work. But another company was also building in the area at the same time which charges half the price, and no it isn’t a big major corporation and is also mentioned in the article.
      Then I get advised by the first company that: After much consideration, we have decided that it is not commercially viable for us to build our infrastructure to ‘name of village, this despite the fact they HAD built infrastructure, I walk past their cab everytime I walk the dog! They attend their sites in marked vans with their brand name on, they also dug some of the next road up up to lay fibre runs.
      I then get advised there is a government funded project for full fibre in my village said company will add me to. Well I’ve gone with someone else now anyway, funnily enough when they came to fit the fibre to my house they said their was another fibre run marked as the company in your list to the point in the road.
      So yeah hence my opinion in my original comment, and it makes Ben’s comment incorrect too about them only giving funding to places without a 3 year plan.

  3. Avatar photo Disgruntled of Dankshire says:

    Just to clarify, the company doing the r&r work (and have started to install cabinets) states that you have to apply for a voucher, they (the company) will assist, but failure to get a voucher means the subscriber will have to pay, between 200-300 gbp. This company is funded by private investors afaik.
    The second company have just been awarded millions of taxpayer money to serve a number of properties (actually far less that the census data re the number of properies in the postcode area.
    OR, We will be building in the future.

    1. Avatar photo XGS says:

      Understood. Vouchers aren’t available where there is either commercial build in prospect or a Project Gigabit procurement in progress. Project Gigabit isn’t a thing where commercial build is happening within 3 years. There shouldn’t be any overlap at a premises level here.

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