£200 million rollout of full fibre broadband begins

The starting gun has been fired on a programme to rollout gigabit-capable full fibre broadband to the most rural and remote locations in the UK, Digital Secretary Jeremy Wright announced today.

Last summer, Government identified that approximately 10 per cent of UK premises, largely in rural and remote areas, would be unlikely to receive gigabit-capable connections commercially by 2033.

An “Outside In” approach is being taken to make sure rural areas are not disadvantaged in the race for full fibre broadband. This new approach will help ensure that the identified 10 per cent of premises are reached at the same time as the commercial roll out happens across the UK.

The Rural Gigabit Connectivity (RGC) programme, launched today, is the first step of this approach.

DCMS Secretary of State Jeremy Wright said:

Our decision to tackle some of the hardest to reach places first is a significant shift in Government policy and will be instrumental in delivering our plans for a nationwide full fibre broadband network by 2033. Our rollout of superfast broadband transformed the UK’s digital landscape, and our modern Industrial Strategy is focused on investing in the infrastructure that will make Britain fit for the future.

RGC is a two year, £200 million UK-wide programme focused on rural areas. Government has initially prioritised sites in Cornwall, Cumbria, Northumberland and Pembrokeshire. Additional sites in Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and the rest of England will be announced in the coming months.

The RGC Programme will trial a model connecting local hubs* in rural areas, starting with primary schools. Working with the Department for Education, DCMS has identified the first 31 schools eligible for a connection under the scheme. These new speeds will enable whole classes to simultaneously surf the internet on tablets as part of structured lessons, and gives schools easier access to online training and educational learning.

Access to cloud services not only means savings as staff go paperless, but will also allow the decommissioning of the school’s local servers to reduce hardware, maintenance and IT support costs.

Other public buildings will then be added throughout the course of the programme, for example health sites and community halls.

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