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  • Writer's pictureAnthony Jones

BDUK Publish Phase 3 of UK Rural Gigabit Broadband Rollout Plan

The UK Government’s Building Digital UK (BDUK) team has today published details on Phase 3 of their £5bn Project Gigabit rollout programme, which will in this phase work to extend 1Gbps capable broadband ISP networks to a further 570,000 premises in rural and semi-rural areas.

What’s in Phase 3 The first procurement phase (Phase 1a) of this project was announced in March 2021 and that covered parts of Cambridgeshire, Cornwall, Cumbria, Dorset, Durham, Essex, Northumberland, South Tyneside and Tees Valley. The next set of Phase 1b and Phase 2 procurement's were then unveiled in August 2021 (here), which covered many more areas in England, stretching across a total of 26 counties.

So far, between Phases 1 and 2, Project Gigabit has already set out a procurement plan for helping to reach 2.2 million additional premises (mostly in England). Some 234,000 premises will also be tackled in Wales as part of the project (here).

By comparison, today’s Phase 3 announcement adds a further 570,000 premises to all that and this covers parts of Cheshire, Devon, Dorset, Somerset, Essex, Herefordshire, Gloucestershire, Lincolnshire, East Riding and North Yorkshire.

NOTE: Project Gigabit in England is centrally managed (by DCMS/BDUK – not local councils), while the details on how the scheme will work in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are still unclear.

I should remind readers that this rollout is NOT an automatic upgrade, thus you will still need to order the service from a supporting ISP (1Gbps is the target speed, but slower and cheaper options will also exist to order). Likewise, no specific network coverage checkers will be available for areas in this programme, at least not until AFTER the contracts have been awarded and the necessary engineering surveys completed.

Finally, I should add that the Government has previously warned that those in the final 1% may still be “prohibitively expensive to reach“, although they’ve recently clarified that less than 0.3% of the country (i.e. under 100,000 premises) are likely to fall into this category (roughly the same gap that the 10Mbps USO has struggled to fill). Solutions for those in the final 0.3% of “Very Hard to Reach” areas are currently being consulted upon.

Below is the Government document outlining full details of Phase 3

Download PDF • 1.42MB

Above article snippets written by Mark Jackson ISPreview

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