The UK government has successfully upgraded over one million premises to gigabit broadband, prioritising hard-to-reach locations where traditional connectivity was challenging.

The majority of the upgraded premises are situated in rural areas, where residents and businesses previously faced difficulties in basic online activities such as streaming, online shopping, and participating in virtual work meetings.

As part of the ongoing commitment to nationwide connectivity, the government has recently signed two additional Project Gigabit contracts, aiming to connect approximately 32,400 premises in Gloucestershire and Yorkshire.

The initiative is supported by the £70m Future Telecoms Programme, which includes the Very Hard to Reach Alpha Trials, boosting satellite connectivity.

More than just residential properties, the upgraded network includes 5,300 public buildings.

Commenting on the development, Science, Innovation and Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan said: “Achieving a million gigabit-ready premises shows our plan to turbocharge British broadband is working.”

Donelan emphasised that the UK’s rapid rollout is not only connecting communities but is also outpacing other EU nations, with 8 in 10 premises now able to access gigabit upgrades.

Donelan is due to visit the rural town of Wooler in Northumberland on 22 February where she will meet with entrepreneurs and businesses that have directly benefited from the broadband upgrades.

The one million upgraded premises include 68,800 in Scotland, 108,800 in Wales, and 118,900 in Northern Ireland, with hundreds of thousands more expected to be connected through Project Gigabit in the coming months and years.

Openreach CEO, Clive Selley, expressed pride in the UK’s digital transformation: “In recent years, the UK’s telecoms sector has been supported by policies and regulation – including the super deduction – which encouraged this massive investment. We’re on track to reach more than 25 million homes and businesses by the end of 2026, including millions in rural communities.”

With around 80% of the UK now covered by gigabit broadband, up from just 6% in 2019, the nation is on track to achieve 85% coverage by 2025.

The rapid expansion of gigabit networks not only supports businesses, contributing to a £2.6bn increase in turnover in areas targeted by the Superfast programme but also positions the UK for a future fit-for-purpose broadband infrastructure.

Julian David, CEO of techUK, emphasised the vital role of high-speed connectivity in driving economic growth and fostering innovation: “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.”

GlobalData’s United Kingdom Telecom Operators Country Intelligence Report predicts that the UK’s telecoms services revenue will reach $54.3bn in 2027, up from $49.3bn in 2022.

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