The UK Government have offered to cough up a huge £318 million in funding for the network provider CityFibre. These funding awards are under the government’s Project Gigabit, which intends to spend £5 billion to get remote and hard-to-reach areas around the UK connected to high-speed broadband. These contracts will be covering Norfolk, Suffolk, and Hampshire. The contracts aren’t just the governments investment, however. CityFibre have had to commit £171 million in total to the project, bringing the combined investment to about half a billion pounds.
This doesn’t mean that fibre rollout is cheap by any means, however, especially in rural areas. This is what kickstarted Project Gigabit in the first place. Progress has been slow but steady, since the first contracts were awarded in August of last year to cover 7,000 premises in Northern Dorset.
The latest awards to CityFibre actually more than double the amount of Project Gigabit funding awarded by BDUK (Building Digital UK) to date. Prior to this announcement, the scheme had dished out just £270 million to eight regional broadband projects, including a £69 million award to CityFibre for 45,000 premises in Cambridgeshire in March.
With the scheme now having handed out over £300 billion to CityFibre alone shows that the project is really finding its feet now, but also shows that it really needs the input of bigger providers to push it further into relevancy.
CityFibre announced the awards as part of a report on their wider commitment to reach half a million addresses within only three counties. With this, it will rollout fibre to another 283,000 homes Norfolk, Suffolk and Hampshire as a part of its 8 million UK homes rollout plan. It has since surpassed 2 million of this in September of last year, and has now made it to roughly 2.8million.
While CityFibre’s planned 8 million homes only consists of commercially viable homes and businesses, the wholesaler believes that the additional homes they can now connect due to the funding will prove ”highly attractive”, being the only gigabit-capable infrastructure in the area.
”Securing three further Project Gigabit contracts firmly establishes CityFibre as an integral delivery partner to government for rural connectivity. Our growing participation is central to our strategy, optimising our commercial rollout plan alongside the programme to provide our ISP customers with unrivaled network density in regions throughout the country.”
Greg Mesch, Chief Executive at CityFibre
CityFibre have set out plans in its Project Gigabit contract locations, and expects to make the first connections in early 2024. By this time, the government should hopefully have alloted more funding to take it closer to the £5 billion headline. As it stands right now, though, the 5 billion seems a world away.