£69 million project launched to bring fast speed broadband to difficult-to-reach households near Peterborough

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First connections expected to be in place early next year

Thousands of households in difficult to reach areas near Peterborough will get access to super fast broadband as work starts on a £69 million project to modernise the county’s network.

It means some residents in Whittlessey, Crowland and Huntingdon plus other locations still to be confirmed will get gigabit-capable full fibre connections, which are capable of speeds more than 30 times faster than superfast broadband.

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Detailed planning to carry out the work in Cambridgeshire has already begun with the first Project Gigabit connections are expected in early 2024.

Julia Lopez, Minister for Data and Digital Infrastructure, chats to Gregg Mesch, founder and chief executive of CityFibre.Julia Lopez, Minister for Data and Digital Infrastructure, chats to Gregg Mesch, founder and chief executive of CityFibre.
Julia Lopez, Minister for Data and Digital Infrastructure, chats to Gregg Mesch, founder and chief executive of CityFibre.

The £69 million comes from the Government’s £5 billion Project Gigabit programme created specifically to connect hard to reach areas to full fibre broadband.

In Cambridgeshire, the Government cash will be backed by a £53 million investment by CityFibre that will help create jobs and provide training that will include construction and engineering internships for disadvantaged groups such as armed forces leavers, people with disabilities and those affected by Covid.

The package will also provide free connectivity to 50 local charities and social enterprises and help those who have trouble using digital technology - often due to the cost or a lack of skills - by increasing their access to digital skills training and equipment.

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CityFibre has already provided extensive coverage in Cambridgeshire where it has so far committed more than £100 million of investment, completing roll outs in Peterborough and March, and with deployment well underway across the county.

Data and Digital Infrastructure minister Julia Lopez hears about Project Gigabit.Data and Digital Infrastructure minister Julia Lopez hears about Project Gigabit.
Data and Digital Infrastructure minister Julia Lopez hears about Project Gigabit.

The new works were officially as started by Digital Infrastructure Minister Julia Lopez.

She said: “Thanks to our record-breaking roll out Project Gigabit, rural homes and businesses across Cambridgeshire can be confident they won’t be left behind in the upgrade to top-of-the-range gigabit broadband.“This landmark deal with CityFibre will help deliver the Prime Minister’s priority to grow the economy by ensuring the county’s pioneering science and tech industries can unleash their full potential with lightning-quick connectivity, whether in the city or the countryside.”

Greg Mesch, chief executive of CityFibre, said: “Having already rolled out full fibre to 2.5 million homes in towns and cities across the country, we know just how important it is that rural communities and internet service providers are freed of their dependency on creaking copper networks and finally able to enjoy the benefits of fast and reliable digital connectivity.

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“That’s why we are delighted that CityFibre has been selected by the government as a partner in its Project Gigabit Programme.

"We look forward to a long and effective partnership in this exciting programme which supports not only rural connectivity, but a healthy competitive market for the long term, benefiting consumers and business nationwide.“

Cllr Lorna Dupré, Chair of Cambridgeshire County Council’s Environment and Green Investment Committee, which oversees the Connecting Cambridgeshire programme, said: “Improved digital infrastructure is crucial for our county and given the significant economic and social benefits for Cambridgeshire I am delighted that we are among the first areas in the country to benefit from the Government’s Project Gigabit funding.