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 1,000 megabits per second (Mbps). They are usually delivered through full-fibre connections (called fibre-to-the-premises).
These faster and higher capacity connections will be needed to ensure that Medway'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.
Project Gigabit procurement for Kent and Medway
BDUK have allocated between £119 million and £203 million to deliver gigabit-capable connections to parts of Kent and Medway that are not expected to benefit from telecom providers' own upgrade programmes.
BDUK’s current intention is that a single contract will be established to deliver these new connections across Kent. BDUK will lead the procurement. BDUK has asked Medway Council and the Kent Broadband Team to partner and support the local delivery across Kent.
BDUK estimate that the Kent and Medway project will cover around 122,000 properties. They plan to start the formal procurement in May 2022, with the contracted work starting in April 2023.
Public review and pre-procurement
BDUK is progressing the pre-procurement work. This is needed to meet current subsidy control and procurement legislation.
This work includes:
- the formal open market review
- public review processes.
This work must take place to ensure that public funding is only used in those areas where there is market failure.
BDUK are seeking views from telecom operators and other interested stakeholders about existing or planned commercial gigabit-capable broadband across Kent and Medway. This technical review forms part of the Project Gigabit pre-procurement work.
All areas currently open for public review are on the GOV.UK website.
The Kent and Medway Public Review period closes on 4 March 2022.