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Project Gigabit update announces funding for Future Telecoms commercialisation

The government has today, 22 February, announced that more than one million homes, businesses, and public buildings can now access gigabit-capable broadband as the UK Government makes progress with its publicly-funded rollout. Further support has also been announced including £70m of funding for Future Telecoms and boosting satellite connectivity.  

A reminder that Project Gigabit is the government's flagship £5 billion programme to enable hard-to-reach communities to access gigabit-capable broadband (not full fibre), via wholesale deployment. This programme has supported areas where it has previously been difficult for broadband suppliers to reach as part of their commercial plans. Therefore, the UK Government has been subsidising the construction of 'gigabit-capable' networks. 

Investments have had a knock-on impact on wider communities and the rural economy through job creation and economic growth. techUK member CityFibre, for instance, was awarded £100 million through Project Gigabit contract to connect around 80,000 hard-to-reach premises across Suffolk, including Icklingham, Mellis and Ringshall. This involved connecting a minimum of 30 community centres for free and donate to local charities working to connect people, tackle loneliness and reduce health inequalities through innovative digital solutions. This highlights the essential role of digital infrastructure and connectivity to the UK’s economy, society, and prosperity. Investment has enabled those hard-to-reach communities across the country to reap the rewards of better and more reliable connectivity.  

Continuing to gather pace with the UK Government's rollout, more than £77 million worth of Project Gigabit contracts have also been signed to connect around 32,400 rural premises across Gloucestershire, West and parts of North Yorkshire. At techUK, we see this as a step in the right direction from the UK Government in accelerating Project Gigabit’s progress. More can be done. We note that Ofcom has found that the take-up of full fibre broadband is much higher in rural areas, compared to urban areas, at 49% vs. 25%. This take-up rate justifies the objective of Project Gigabit in connecting hard-to-reach areas, as many may not have had access to superfast broadband before the Project deployment.  

Future Telecoms opportunity and dedicated national dark fibre infrastructure  

At techUK, we are committed to ensuring our members take a leading role in the future of connectivity. Indeed, they will deliver the next generation of networks to underpin innovation in internet-based applications and services.  

Today’s announcement includes a brand new £70m opportunity with the UKRI’s Future Telecoms Programme, funded through the UKRI Technology Missions Fund. The opportunity will see 16 UK projects share £22m to support the development and commercialisation of new tech solutions and lay the groundwork for the networks of the future. 

Meanwhile, £40m will provide further support for three existing Future Telecoms Research Hubs - led by Imperial College London, Oxford, and Cambridge Universities alongside the creation of a dedicated national infrastructure for future telecoms testing and development linked to the UK National Dark Fibre - to support research in 6G, developing new architectures and networks for end-to-end connectivity, embedding AI and computing and developing wireless access systems such as cell-free networks and optical wireless integration. 

Julian David, techUK CEO, made the following comments on today's announcements: 

"This announcement underscores the crucial role that high-quality communications infrastructure plays in driving the UK's economy, connecting society, and fostering prosperity. techUK is particularly pleased to see the continued investment in the innovative telecoms technology of tomorrow. These advancements are pivotal in shaping the future landscape of innovation, powering a plethora of emerging technologies, ranging from quantum computing to AI, automation, and edge computing." 

Channel website: http://www.techuk.org/

Original article link: https://www.techuk.org/resource/project-gigabit-update-announces-funding-for-future-telecoms-commercialisation.html

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