Project Gigabit summer update: significant progress made by industry
A summer update to Project Gigabit was announced today, with DCMS outlining future investment and rollout plans for 26 counties including Yorkshire, Staffordshire and Kent.
Following the publication of the Project Gigabit Phase One Delivery Plan in March 2021, this update to the Plan sets out a proposed procurement pipeline for Phases 1 and 2 with modelled premises numbers.
DCMS rightly acknowledges the significant progress made by the telecoms industry who have committed to increase their commercial investment. This progress made across all areas of the UK since March underlines the confidence investors have in UK infrastructure investment.
Operators such as CityFibre (8-10 million premise connections), Openreach (25 million by the end of 2026)—as well as Gigaclear and Hyperoptic and new joint venture Virgin Media O2—have set out their commitment to meeting government’s targets: the market is on track to deliver gigabit-capable networks to at least 80% of UK premises by December 2025.
What these commitments mean is that the need for government-industry collaboration and dialogue is more important than ever: DCMS recognises the onus on them to understand and challenge industry plans so it uses public funding to best effect.
The update to Project Gigabit also provides a progress-check on DCMS preparations for Local Supplier and Regional Supplier procurements. The smaller Local Supplier procurements have moved forward: DCMS launched the Dynamic Purchasing System on 4 May 2021 and over 70 telecoms providers have registered their interest. This is an important milestone and means DCMS is ready to start the first competitions as soon as intervention areas are shaped following Public Review.
DCMS categorised all Regional Supplier procurement lots in England into Phase 1, Phase 2 and Future Phases in the March publication. The Department has now set out an initial schedule of proposed procurement dates and contract award dates for each Lot in the first two Phases.
|Phase 1a||Procurement start date||Contract commencement date||Modelled number of uncommercial premises in the procurement area||Indicative contract value|
|Essex||October 2021||May 2022||6,500||TBC (Intervention area being defined)|
|Dorset (2 lots)||November 2021||June 2022||10,000||TBC (Intervention area being defined)|
|Cumbria (Lot 28)||September 2021||August 2022||66,300||£60m - £102m|
|Cambridgeshire and adjacent areas (Lot 5)||October 2021||June 2022||98,500||£95m - £161m|
|Durham, Tyneside and Teesside areas (Lot 4)||November 2021||October 2022||83,100||£79m - £135m|
|Northumberland (Lot 34))||November 2021||October 2022||26,600||£24m - £40m|
|Cornwall and Isles of Scilly (Lot 32)||February 2022||January 2023||57,900||£54m - £93m|
|Phase 1b||Procurement start date||Contract commencement date||Modelled number of uncommercial premises in the procurement area||Indicative contract value|
|Shropshire (Lot 25)||February 2022||January 2023||66,700||£61m - £104m|
|Norfolk (Lot 7)||February 2022||January 2023||118,700||£115m - £195m|
|Suffolk (Lot 2)||February 2022||January 2023||92,000||£89m - £151m|
|Hampshire and Isle of Wight (Lot 27)||February 2022||January 2023||150,900||£148m - £251m|
|Worcestershire (Lot 24)||May 2022||April 2023||51,400||£50m - £84m|
|Phase 2||Procurement start date||Contract commencement date||Modelled number of uncommercial premises in the procurement area||Indicative contract value|
|Oxfordshire and West Berkshire (Lot 13)||May 2022||April 2023||68,600||£67m - £114m|
|Kent (Lot 29)||May 2022||April 2023||122,300||£119m - £203m|
|Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and East of Berkshire (Lot 26)||May 2022||April 2023||142,000||£140m - £237m|
|Staffordshire (Lot 19)||May 2022||April 2023||76,300||£72m - £123m|
|West Sussex (Lot 1)||May 2022||April 2023||67,800||£66m - £112m|
|East Sussex (Lot 16)||August 2022||July 2023||50,300||£49m - £83m|
|Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire and Milton Keynes (Lot 12)||August 2022||July 2023||87,500||£85m - £144m|
|Derbyshire (Lot 3)||August 2022||July 2023||67,300||£64m - £110m|
|Wiltshire, South Gloucestershire and Swindon (Lot 30)||August 2022||July 2023||88,000||£85m - £145m|
|Lancashire (Lot 9)||August 2022||July 2023||92,200||£90m - £153m|
|Surrey (Lot 22)||August 2022||July 2023||101,900||£101m - £171m|
|Leicestershire and Warwickshire (Lot 11)||November 2022||October 2023||118,400||£114m - £194m|
|Nottinghamshire and West of Lincolnshire (Lot 10)||November 2022||October 2023||93,000||£90m - £152m|
|West Yorkshire and parts of North Yorkshire (Lot 8)||November 2022||October 2023||133,100||£128m - £218m|
|South Yorkshire (Lot 20)||November 2022||October 2023||62,400||£61m - £103m|
- Contract commencement date: The expected start date of the new commercial activity with engineers on site.
- 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
The areas with top-ups to the voucher scheme are included in the table below.
|Residential Voucher Top-Up Amount||Max. Residential Voucher (inclusive of any VAT)||SME Voucher Top-Up Amount||Max. SME Voucher (exclusive of any VAT which the vouchers cannot fund)||Current available speed must be less than|
|Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme||£1,500||£3,500||100 Mbps|
|Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme||£1,500||£3,000||£3,500||£7,000||30 Mbps|
|Borderlands -Cumbria & Northumberland||£1,500||£3,000||£3,500||£7,000||30 Mbps|
|Cambridgeshire & Peterborough||£1,500||£3,000||£1,500||£5,000||30 Mbps|
|County Durham||£1,500||£3,000||£3,500||£7,000||30 Mbps|
|East Riding of Yorkshire||£1,500||£3,000||£3,500||£7,000||30 Mbps|
|East Sussex||£1,000||£2,500||£1,000||£4,500||30 Mbps|
|West Sussex||£2,500||£4,000||£500||£4,000||100 Mbps|
For further details on Regional Supplier Contract Development, Prioritisation of Premises, and how DCMS is working to deliver gigabit across the Union, read the full update here.
Barrier-busting and local partnerships
It was positive to see DCMS recognise the need to work with local authority teams—with their significant local knowledge and record of hard work in maximising digital infrastructure opportunities—in delivering Project Gigabit.
The update outlined how, in areas where Regional Supplier procurements are some way off, or there are gaps in broad commercial plans provide immediate opportunities for local teams, the focus will expand to efforts to bust barriers for telecoms companies in local areas, as well as utilise the Local Supplier procurements, Gigahubs and the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme to deliver gigabit to priority communities in a relatively short timescale.
Work by local authorities can help too: stimulating demand through top-up schemes, increasing their understanding of telecoms providers operating in their area, and building a clear picture of infrastructure that could be used to decrease the cost of rollout. As such, programmes like the Digital Connectivity Infrastructure Accelerator will be useful and welcome.
The gigabit target calls for this collaborative and fluid approach, underscoring the complexity across the UK of deploying gigabit speeds to all. techUK looks forward to working with our members, local and central government stakeholders to ensure that the support is there for the telecoms industry to continue its accelerated pace of rollout, to the benefit of consumers and businesses in the biggest cities and smallest hamlets across the UK.