Milestone for UK Government’s Project Gigabit in Cornwall as Faster Broadband Switched On for First 1,000 Homes

  • First 1,000 homes included within UK Government’s Project Gigabit areas for South West and Mid Cornwall can now receive new Full Fibre broadband service.
  • The milestone is part of the government’s £5 billion Project Gigabit programme which will see up to 19,250 hard-to-reach homes and businesses in Cornwall connected.
  • Homes in Mullion on the Lizard Peninsula and mid Cornwall are among the first to go live.

The first homes in Cornwall to benefit from the UK Government’s Project Gigabit programme have now been connected to Full Fibre broadband as part of a £36 million project being delivered by Wildanet to bring gigabit-capable broadband to almost 20,000 people living and working in rural Cornwall.

The successful completion of this first milestone comes as Wildanet has made excellent progress surveying, designing and commencing the network build, with teams of engineers currently working in 13 of the most remote and hard-to-reach areas of the county.

Now householders in villages as far afield as Mullion, on the western coast of Cornwall’s Lizard Peninsula and Lanivet in mid Cornwall have become among the first 1,000 homes to see the new service go live, instantly transforming their internet connectivity after years of putting up with slow speeds.

Project Gigabit is the government’s £5 billion programme to connect hard-to-reach areas, which, without government intervention, would miss out on the industry’s rollout of faster, more reliable ‘gigabit-capable’ broadband. The aim is to create a level playing field for hard-to-reach communities and businesses, bringing with it economic, environmental and social benefits for local people.

The work Wildanet is doing to support Project Gigabit has already seen the company’s own engineering team, supported by multiple contracting partners, install 33,500 metres of fibre-optic cabling as well as carrying out extensive civil engineering and infrastructure work to extend coverage to target rural areas.

With the first connections now in place, Wildanet, is on schedule to make the service available to more than 6,000 homes and businesses by the end of 2024, and complete the project by December 2025.

Data and Digital Infrastructure Minister, Julia Lopez, said: "This is just the start of the connectivity revolution we are delivering for thousands of people in Cornwall.

“Thanks to millions of pounds of UK government investment,  local residents will have access to lightning-fast internet speeds through our Project Gigabit programme – meaning no more waiting for movies to buffer and better connectivity for businesses.

“It's great to see Project Gigabit is already equipping communities with the kind of modern digital infrastructure which will improve lives, drive productivity and unlock exciting new opportunities for local people."

Helen Wylde-Archibald, Wildanet Chief Executive Officer, said: “As a Cornish business which is deeply invested in its local communities, we are immensely proud to be delivering for Cornwall, having been entrusted by government with these hugely important infrastructure projects for the county.

“Wildanet’s founding mission was to extend high speed digital connectivity, and the social and economic benefits this brings, to homes and businesses in hard-to-reach rural areas so that everyone can benefit from the opportunities available in this increasingly digital age.

“It is a wonderful milestone moment to see the first homes connected and to also reflect on the transformative power of this project which, as well as extending gigabit broadband, is also supporting local employment, training and skills in the Cornish economy.”

Ellen Morris, who lives in the village of Lanivet, in Mid Cornwall, with her partner Michael and their two-and-a-half-year-old son, said the new broadband service had been transformational for the family.

She said: “We were getting a 30 to 40Mbps service previously over copper wires but with fibre we’re now getting speeds of about 200Mbps. More than that, the new service is more reliable and also offers complete coverage within our home, whereas previously we were pretty much limited to the front room for good internet.

“It means we can use laptops, smart TV and streaming services in all parts of the house; we don’t have to worry about how many devices are connected either, it copes with it all brilliantly. And we are looking forward to being able to get coverage out into the garden in the summer.

“My partner is self-employed and has to file regular returns with HMRC, including uploading documents and receipts to the HMRC website. Uploads could take up to 15 minutes with our old service but are now completed in seconds and the stability of the service makes completing online forms and filing this information much easier.

“It’s made a huge difference for us. My father and uncle live in the same village and have also signed up for the service and a number of our friends and neighbours are also making the switch.”

In addition to the work it is doing to support Project Gigabit, Wildanet is also investing more than £100 million of private equity funding into extending its Full Fibre network across Cornwall and Devon - bringing fast, reliable internet to homes, businesses and communities.

Wildanet has become a major regional employer, more than doubling its workforce in the last 18 months to over 220 staff as well as driving significant economic activity and employment through its commitment to using local businesses in its supply chain.

In 2023, Wildanet launched a new centre of excellence in Cornwall – the Wildanet Technical Training Academy – providing industry-leading training for the next generation of telecommunication engineers and supporting the roll-out of high-speed broadband to thousands of people living and working in the region. The initiative, together with a ground-breaking new apprenticeship programme with Truro and Penwith College is a key commitment to delivering the Project Gigabit contracts as well as Wildanet’s wider commercial build taking place across Cornwall and Devon.

In January, Wildanet became the first UK AltNet (Alternative Network Provider) to become a Certified B Corporation, recognising its commitment to operating as a force for good, prioritising sustainability, ethical practices and social responsibility as part of its successful ‘profit with purpose’ approach to business.

For more information about this project, please visit www.wildanet.com/projectgigabit

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