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19 Mar 2021

Plans for faster broadband aim to improve connections around the UK

The first areas to benefit from 'Project Gigabit' have been revealed

The UK government has revealed the first areas to benefit from its broadband upgrade plan. Homes and businesses in nine areas currently suffering from subpar broadband speeds will be given access to Gigabit broadband, offering speeds 15 times faster than the UK's current average.

This rollout is part of the government's pledge to provide at least 85% of the UK with full-fibre broadband by 2025. It has committed £5bn to connect the hardest-to-reach parts of the UK.

It's not yet clear when customers will get access to the new high speed connections, though work is set to commence in 2022.

Rocio Concha, Which? Director of Policy and Advocacy at Which?, said: 'This year has highlighted the importance of fast and reliable broadband, so it's good to see government prioritise areas which have suffered for too long with poor internet connections.

'The government should clarify when these communities will actually be able to benefit from these connections, as consumers are relying on the internet more than ever and improving connectivity will play an important role as we recover from the pandemic.'

Read on to find out more about Gigabit broadband, including whether your local area is included in the first phase of the upgrade.

Find out which providers impressed the most in our regular survey of the UK's best and worst broadband providers.

Engineer in hardhat is using a tablet computer in

What is Gigabit broadband?

Gigabit broadband refers to connections with speeds of 1,000Mbps - also known as one gigabit per second. It's the highest speed broadband available and is around 15 times faster than the average broadband in the UK.

As well as offering speedy downloads (gigabit connections can download a film in less than 10 seconds), these high speed connections offer better reliability and can support a greater number of users.

Gigabit broadband is becoming increasingly accessible in the UK - now 40% of properties have access, up from just 9% in 2019.

Find out more about Gigabit broadband - and how it compares with other types of fibre - in our guide to the benefits of fibre broadband.

When can I expect Gigabit to be available in my area?

The government has announced that nine areas will be front of the queue for the broadband upgrade. These are:

  • Cambridgeshire
  • Cornwall
  • Cumbria
  • Dorset
  • Durham
  • Essex
  • Northumberland
  • South Tyneside
  • Tees Valley

As many as 510,000 homes and businesses are set to benefit in these nine areas. However, so far the government has only committed to work commencing on the upgrade in these areas in 2022. It's not yet clear when gigabit speeds will become available to local customers.

Plans for similar work to commence in Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, Norfolk, Shropshire, Suffolk and Worcester are due to follow in June.

Next month, the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme will also be relaunched - it will allow people in eligible rural areas to apply for financial help to access gigabit speeds.

Unsure what's currently available where you live? Use Which? Switch Broadband to compare broadband deals.

What are the benefits of fibre broadband?

Fibre broadband isn't only faster than standard broadband, it's also more reliable.

But there are different types of fibre:

  • Partial fibre is the type many of us currently used. While fibre optic cables make up the majority of the network, copper wiring is used from a street cabinet into the home
  • Full fibre connections don't involve any copper at all, making them even less prone to dropouts and resilient against interference from bad weather.

If you're one of the customers still using standard broadband, it's worth weighing up an upgrade - find out more in our guide to broadband speeds.