Cumbria will be one of the first areas to get better broadband in a £5 billion project.
Project Gigabit, a new scheme from the Government, will prioritise hard-to-reach rural areas with the slowest speeds
Up to 230,000 homes and businesses in Cumbria and Northumberland that will not benefit from planned rollout by broadband companies will have gigabit broadband built to them – including across the whole of Cumbria.
The Government-funded projects will prioritise buildings that currently have the slowest connections and which would otherwise have been left behind in broadband companies’ rollout plans.
Their available speeds will rocket to more than 1,000 megabits or one gigabit per second.
It is hope work will start in the first half of next year.
Areas with the largest proportion of premises identified as hard-to-reach or connected to slow speeds will be first in line for support.
Digital infrastructure Minister Matt Warman said: “Today almost everything is online – how we work, shop, play, and socialise – but too many rural communities are stuck in the digital slow lane waiting for better broadband.
“We’re making a huge step to put an end to this with Project Gigabit .
“This is fantastic news for the region’s homes and businesses giving them the chance to take full advantage of the social and economic benefits of new technology. I’m excited to see the huge difference it will make.”
Cumbria and Northumberland are among eight areas announced as the first in line for the project alongside Cambridgeshire, Cornwall, Dorset, Durham, Essex, South Tyneside and Tees Valley.
Project Gigabit will invest a record £5 billion to incentivise network providers to build to areas deemed ‘commercially unviable’.
The successful Gigabit Broadband Voucher scheme is also being extended with a £210 million cash injection to give people in rural areas immediate financial help to get gigabit speeds.
The Government is also making £110 million available to connect public sector buildings in the countryside – such as GP surgeries, libraries and schools.
David Southward, Cumbria County Council cabinet member for economic development, said: “I am delighted to welcome this funding – the importance of digital connectivity is becoming increasingly important to the lives of our local residents and the productivity of local businesses.
“The need for continued investment and improvement in digital connectivity, particularly in rural areas, has been highlighted by the coronavirus pandemic, and access to fast, reliable internet connectivity is a basic necessity for residents, local businesses and the delivery of public services.
“As a part of our Digital Infrastructure Strategy, Cumbria County Council is committed to helping Cumbria develop the vital infrastructure our local communities, businesses and services need to ensure they have every opportunity to thrive and be successful.
“As portfolio holder for economic development, digital infrastructure is a top priority, with significant economic and social benefits for Cumbria – I am pleased to see that Cumbria is in the vanguard of this government investment.”