DORSET residents will be among the first in the country to receive new ultra-fast gigabit broadband. 

Following the Government’s £5 billion Project Gigabit investment the first areas targeted for the upgrade have been revealed, with Dorset at the top of the list.

The new broadband will allow people to download a high-definition film in under a minute, with one gigabit equivalent to 1,000 megabits.

As many as 510,000 homes and businesses long plagued by sluggish broadband will be at the front of the queue, including, Cambridgeshire, Cornwall, Cumbria, Dorset, Durham, Essex, Northumberland, South Tyneside and Tees Valley.

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However, low demand for these better services could hinder the Government’s ambition for at least 85 per-cent of the UK to have access to gigabit-capable broadband by 2025.

The UK’s ability to capitalise on the rollout of next-generation gigabit broadband is at risk because too few consumers and businesses are aware of the technology and its benefits, according to a report.

Around six in 10 consumers (59 per-cent) and 33 per-cent of small and micro businesses are not aware of gigabit-capable broadband despite the Government’s £5 billion Project Gigabit investment and a slew of ads from broadband providers, a report by the Gigabit Take-up Advisory Group (GigaTAG) found.

How affordable is gigabit broadband?

The new report identifies affordability as a key barrier to adopting gigabit-capable broadband for low-income households.

Only one in five people (21 per-cent) is willing to pay more for gigabit-capable broadband amid a lack of understanding of the benefits, the study found.

Rocio Concha, Which? director of policy and advocacy and chairwoman of the GigaTAG, said: “Demand for faster, more reliable broadband services is crucial to the success of the rollout of gigabit-capable broadband, and to ensure the benefits of these connections are realised.

“Better information about the benefits, measures to improve the language used to describe these services, along with possible targeted voucher and discount schemes, will help to address the barriers preventing consumers from benefiting from better connections.”

Felicity Burch, CBI director of innovation and digital policy, said: “As we move from crisis to recovery, capitalising on the new business opportunities to be had from better connectivity will be essential.

“The Government has set an ambitious aim for at least 85 per-cent of the UK to have access to gigabit-capable broadband by 2025. Bold action will be required now to ensure that the take-up of gigabit-capable services keeps pace.”

Consumer take-up

The GigaTAG, assembled by Which?, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) at the request of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), has recommended that Ofcom and the broadband industry work together on clear and common terminology to cut through advertising jargon and describe gigabit broadband and its benefits in straightforward terms.

Other recommendations include a possible Kitemark-style labelling scheme to increase understanding of gigabit-capable broadband, the improvement of digital skills for small businesses and the self-employed, and consideration of an employer-led scheme to support the uptake of gigabit broadband by offering employee discounts.

Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman said: “Gigabit broadband is the next giant leap forward in internet technology and our record £5 billion investment is rapidly fuelling the rollout – with 60% of the UK due to have access by the end of this year, up from just 12% in 2019.

“We believe passionately in making sure everyone can feel the benefits of these lightning-fast speeds and I will be carefully considering GigaTAG’s welcome proposals for boosting consumer take-up.”