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Broadband upgrade in West Midlands to level up 194,000 rural homes and businesses

Monday 2nd August, 2021

  • Hard-to-reach premises in West Midlands to benefit from £5 billion government scheme
  • Includes Shropshire, Staffordshire and Worcestershire
  • Big boost to broadband voucher scheme thanks to top-ups in Shropshire

Rural homes and businesses across the West Midlands will get next-generation gigabit broadband built to them under a £5 billion plan to level up internet access across the UK. 

New details published today from Project Gigabit, a government scheme to upgrade broadband infrastructure in hard-to-reach areas, reveal that up to 194,000 rural homes and businesses in the region and surrounding areas are in line to be connected to lightning-fast speeds.

This is in addition to commercial providers’ roll out which is seeing gigabit broadband being deployed rapidly across the country - from one in ten households in the UK in 2019 to more than two in five today. The country is also on track for one of the fastest rollouts in Europe and for 60 per cent of all households to have access to gigabit speeds by the end of this year.

The Project Gigabit programme targets properties that would otherwise have been left behind in broadband companies’ rollout plans, prioritising those that currently have the slowest connections. 

Their available speeds will rocket to more than 1,000 megabits or one gigabit per second - enough to download a HD movie in less than 30 seconds and lay the foundations for tomorrow’s tech such as 8K-quality video streaming.

It means families no longer having to battle over bandwidth and will give people in rural areas the freedom to live and work more flexibly with the speed and reliability needed to start and run businesses..

The areas - including the dates work is due to start, the number of premises and estimated costs - are as follows:

Areas Procurement start date Contract commencement date Number of premises Indicative contract value
Shropshire February 2022 January 2023 66,700 £61m - £104m
Worcestershire May 2022 April 2023 51,400 £50m - £84m
Staffordshire November 2022 October 2023 76,300 £72m - £123m

 
More areas in the West Midlands are also planned, and more details will be announced in due course.
 
Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman said:
 
“We’re powering ahead in our national mission to level up the regions and build back better. 

“Today we can reveal how our £5 billion Project Gigabit broadband fund is going to help rural communities across the West Midlands get access to lightning-fast internet connections and give people the freedom to live and work flexibly and seize the benefits of modern technology.”
 
Project Gigabit will incentivise network providers to build in areas deemed ‘commercially unviable’.
 
Areas with the largest proportion of premises identified as hard-to-reach or connected to slow speeds will be first in line for support.
 
Project Gigabit will accelerate our recovery from covid, fire up high growth sectors like tech and the creative industries and level up the country, spreading wealth and creating jobs the breadth of Britain.
 
People in Shropshire are also set to receive even more financial support to get a next-generation connection thanks to a top-up to the government’s Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme. It means homes and small businesses in the county can now claim £3,000 or £7,000 respectively to cover the costs of a connection, doubling the amount offered as part of the main scheme. To check your eligibility for a voucher, visit https://gigabitvoucher.culture.gov.uk/
 


Additional information on the table
 
  • In the table published above, some contract lots span across multiple English regions. Where this has been the case, for public communications purposes, we have allocated the lot to whichever region has more premises included to form a complete lot.
  • Contract commencement date: The start date of the new commercial activity.
  • Number of premises: The number of premises in scope of the procurement and expected to be uncommercial and require public funding – either as modelled by DCMS or as superseded following Public Review and Pre-Procurement Market Engagement. This value may change significantly leading up to commencement of the procurement process
  • Indicative contract value: Low - An indicative lower bound on the expected contract value - determined by applying a relatively low average subsidy per premises passed to the number of premises expected to be in scope and affordable. High - An indicative upper bound on the expected contract value - determined by applying a relatively high average subsidy per premises passed to the number of premises expected to be in scope and affordable