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Government announces major broadband roll out to boost digital access

The Government has announced a major broadband roll out to 45,000 rural homes and businesses in Cambridgeshire as part of Project Gigabit, the government’s £5 billion initiative.

The project will be carried out by CityFibre who’ll deliver the broadband solution for hard-to-reach areas in the county, providing gigabit-capable full fibre connections capable of speeds over 30 times faster than superfast broadband.

The roll out is funded by a £69 million contract and will unlock a further £53 million in commercial investment from CityFibre to expand their network.

Elizabeth Anderson, COO of the Digital Poverty Alliance, commented: “It is great to see the Government taking action with a major broadband initiative to provide people in rural, under-connected areas with access to high-speed connectivity. Broadband is a central aspect of digital inclusion across the UK, alongside access to devices and digital skills, so it is important that the Government continues to prioritise this area, viewing it as an essential service in line with other essential utilities such as energy.”

“One in five people across the UK can be regarded as facing digital exclusion, so this rollout by the Government should be seen as part of a wider strategy to provide digital access for all and we hope to see future plans and initiatives to continue this work.”

“The cost of broadband remains an issue to be addressed, however, especially against the backdrop of the cost-of-living crisis. A new entitlement, funded by VAT cuts on broadband and mobile bills, can provide support to millions of households across the UK by ensuring that all telecoms providers deliver affordable social tariffs. If issues such as this aren’t addressed, even more people will become digitally excluded and lose out on the essentials of the digital world.”

Off the back of the deal, CityFibre has committed an additional £300,000 local stimulus package to create jobs in the local area and provide digital training.

Digital Infrastructure Minister Julia Lopez said: “Thanks to our record-breaking roll out Project Gigabit, rural homes and businesses across Cambridgeshire can be confident they won’t be left behind in the upgrade to top-of-the-range gigabit broadband. This landmark deal with CityFibre will help deliver the Prime Minister’s priority to grow the economy by ensuring the country’s pioneering science and tech industries can unleash their full potential with lightning-quick connectivity, whether in the city or the countryside.”

The first connections for Project Gigabit are excepted in early 2024.