The UK Gigabit Programme or ‘Project Gigabit’ is a £5 billion government infrastructure project to deliver future-proofed gigabit-capable broadband connections across the UK. Gigabit capable connections offer download speeds of at least 1 gigabit-per-second (1 Gbps) or 1000 megabits per second (Mbps) and are usually delivered through full-fibre connections (called fibre-to-the-premises).
Increasingly, these faster and higher capacity connections will be required to ensure that Kent’s digital infrastructure is able to meet future demand.
Building Digital UK (BDUK) are responsible for the delivery of the Project Gigabit Programme, including leading and procuring the Kent and Medway delivery contracts.
Project Gigabit Targets
The national targets and objectives for the Project Gigabit Programme are:
- 85% of UK premises to have gigabit coverage by 2025 with the aim of achieving ‘near universal coverage as soon as possible’ but before the end of the decade
- commercial investment (upgrades funded by telecoms providers) to provide gigabit capable connections to 80% of homes and businesses across the UK
- the remaining 20% of properties that remain outside the scope of commercial investment to be connected via new government-funded programmes. £5 billion has currently been allocated to fund these connections – and the government’s intention is for properties that cannot currently access a superfast broadband connection to be prioritised wherever possible within the new programme.
The Project Gigabit Procurement for Kent and Medway
BDUK have announced that they have allocated over £100 million to deliver gigabit-capable connections to parts of Kent and Medway that are not expected to benefit from telecom providers' upgrade programmes.
The procurement for this work will be led by BDUK. Kent County Council’s broadband team has been asked by BDUK to partner with BDUK and support the local delivery across Kent.
BDUK estimate that the Kent and Medway project will cover around 72,000 properties. They have also announced that they plan to start the formal procurement in December 2022 and enter into a contract with a supplier for this in November 2023.
Building Digital UK have obtained and collated views from telecom operators and other interested stakeholders with regard to existing or planned commercial gigabit capable broadband across Kent and Medway. This technical review formed part of the Project Gigabit pre-procurement work and was necessary as part of the government’s subsidy control processes.