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UK Government announces "Project Gigabit"

On 19th March 2021, the DCMS announced Project Gigabit. This includes the extension of the existing voucher scheme, but also introduces direct funding for those areas where commercial deployment is not deemed viable.

In principle, this may be better than the current scheme as it should focus vouchers on small groups of properties where some degree of self-funding is required.

The good news is that Hampshire is in Phase 1b of Project Gigbit where "We are commencing work on a number of other areas where additional procurements can be brought forward to help build pace for the programme while still supporting the learning phase." and "We will provide further information on these areas in a further update in June 2021." At least we are not in phase 2.

However, this does introduce a degree of uncertainty for us and the big question is: do we press ahead with voucher based schemes or do we, or have to, stand down and wait for Project Gigabit to deliver.

I am currently trying to clarify the situation along with the other local FTTP projects. My initial guess at the answer to my question is that we will have to stand down at least until June. There could also be a significant delay while Phase 1b is defined and before we have any dates. I would also predict that South East Alresford could be marginal between direct funding and commercial funding, while rural schemes, such as in Ropley may still have to get voucher funding.

We shall see how this pans out. However, while the Government has arguably improved the scheme from the point of view of the whole country, it may put back the date that we get FTTP until well into 2022.

A copy of the Project Gigabit document is available below or from the DCMS. This article on ISP Review is also worth reading.

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