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UK govt invests £530m to boost rural broadband connectivity
Mon, 18th Dec 2023

The UK Government's effort to promote nationwide connectivity continues with an investment of over £530 million designed to boost broadband capabilities for over 330,000 homes and businesses. The primary focus of this funding allotment is to support rural areas, addressing a prevalent digital divide and bolstering economic growth from within these regions.

Part of the Government's ongoing connectivity investment scheme includes a £33 million allocation that will facilitate gigabit capable broadband for over 17,000 homes across rural Derbyshire. This initiative forms a segment of an extensive project that has successfully supplied gigabit capable broadband access to 79 per cent of homes and businesses across the UK, with a goal to reach 85 per cent by 2025.

This ambitious project has seen issuance of contracts to regions including Cambridgeshire, Hampshire, New Forest, Norfolk, Northeast Staffordshire, Oxfordshire, Shropshire and Suffolk, contributing to the aggregated £530 million investment this year. Prior contracts rendered thousands of businesses and homes in areas such as Stavely in Cumbria, Barnard Castle in Teesdale, and Bishops Caundle in North Dorset with upgraded gigabit connections.

Reflecting on the tremendous impact that these investments bring, Sachin Agrawal, UK Managing Director at Zoho Corporation, asserted: "Connectivity investment in rural areas is crucial to empower regional businesses across the UK. Businesses and their locations are key to unlocking local economic growth and distributing wealth throughout the country more effectively, and internet connectivity plays a vital role here."

Highlighting the transformational role of technology for organizations, Agrawal said, "Technology plays a central part in creating a seamless experience for employees, whether they are at home or in the office. Tools that both enable real-time communication and collaboration that allow team members to simultaneously work efficiently on tasks, keep staff continuously connected, regardless of location."

"Improving connectivity in regions across the UK also gives businesses more options when it comes to office locations, permitting them to reduce overheads and move away from busy urban centres. This not only provides cost savings but improves flexibility for employees who can enjoy the benefits of a more affordable lifestyle and be closer to their families," Agrawal further explicated.

Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, Michelle Donelan, mirrored these sentiments, indicating the broader societal benefits brought by enhanced connectivity. She said, "Working hand in glove with industry, the success of our high-speed broadband rollout means more homes have faster, clearer connectivity than ever before."

Donelan added: "Whether they are streaming classic Christmas movies or video calling loved ones across the world, this year thousands more families will not have to face feuds over festive films or frustrating buffering, leaving more time to spend enjoying the company of their nearest and dearest."

As the government anticipates working further with broadband suppliers, it expects this project to deliver nationwide gigabit capable broadband by 2030.