Works begins on ultra-fast broadband connections in Cumbria

Work to bring ultra-fast broadband to remote homes in Cumbria has begun as part of the government’s £5bn national scheme to connect hard to reach areas in the UK. 

The £108m project will connect 60,000 businesses and houses across Cumbria, making it the ‘most-connected region in the UK’ according to Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Michelle Donelan. 

She told the BBC: ‘It’s a rolling project. They’ll be doing it as quickly as they can to get homes and business connected to gigabit, which is more reliable and can cope with multiple devices and support businesses.’ 

Originally announced in 2021, Cumbria was part of the initial rollout for the national project, which also includes Cambridgeshire, Cornwall, Dorset, Durham, Essex, Northumberland, South Tyneside, and Tees Valley. 

It is expected that the first gigabit connections in the area will be completed by spring 2023, with claims that 99% of the county will have a gigabit connection once all the work is completed.

man in green jacket sitting on chair

The contract for the fibre project in Cumbria was given to Fibrus, a Belfast-based company. 

Gigabit capable broadband means that the connection is capable of 1 gigabit per second download speeds, this allows a high-definition film to be downloaded in under a minute, according to a government research briefing. 

Though the government had initially announced full gigabit coverage in the UK by 2025, it later revised that aim to 85% coverage, with only £1.3bn of the £5bn budget available ‘up to 2024.’ 

A uswitch report in August of this year found that 66% of all UK homes had access to gigabit-capable broadband as of January 2022, including 82% of Northern Ireland, though only 46% of Welsh homes had gigabit connections. 

Welsh internet company Ogi is one of the businesses seeking to address the issue of connecting remote homes, it recently provided STEM sessions to school children in one of the areas it was providing full-fibre broadband to. 

At the beginning of this year, the government was criticised by the Public Accounts Committee which said it had not taken significant action to remove the barriers in the way of a roll-out. This was despite the Chief Executive of the National Infrastructure Commission, James Heath, saying that he felt the government had a ‘clear plan in place’ for a digital infrastructure roll-out.

Photo by Mika Baumeister


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