Major broadband upgrade for New Forest to benefit thousands

Thousands of homes and businesses across the New Forest and surrounding areas will benefit from high-speed full fibre broadband after a government contract worth nearly £14 million was awarded to Wessex Internet.

The three-year contract is part of the UK government’s £5 billion Project Gigabit, which aims to provide lightning-fast gigabit-capable broadband to hard-to-reach communities across the UK.

Wessex Internet’s fibre optic network will be rolled out to communities around the New Forest including Brockenhurst, Burley, Beaulieu, Godshill, Hordle and Sway, transforming broadband speeds and reliability for approximately 10,500 local residents and businesses.

Wessex Internet will work closely with Forestry England and the Verderers of the New Forest throughout the three-year programme of work and expects to start network construction in the first communities by the end of this year.

The first properties could be connected to lightning-fast broadband as early as February 2024.

Digital infrastructure minister, Julia Lopez said: “Thanks to this latest multi-million pound contract for the New Forest, thousands of hard-to-reach homes and businesses in this stunning area will benefit from a state-of-the-art network ready to provide the speed and reliability we will all need in the decades ahead.

“The Prime Minister has put growing the economy as one of his five top priorities, and this investment will go far in delivering on that mission here in the New Forest by equipping rural areas with the infrastructure they need for the digital age.”

Hector Gibson Fleming, CEO at Wessex Internet, said: “This is great news for homes and businesses in the New Forest who will be able to access world-class connectivity and the many economic and social benefits it provides.

“We will now work closely with the residents and communities across this beautiful national park to deliver this exciting programme.

“We’re delighted to be awarded our second contract under Project Gigabit. It is testament to the hard work
and dedication of our team, and their strong track record of rolling out gigabit-capable connectivity to even the hardest to reach countryside communities.”

Project Gigabit is the UK government’s flagship £5 billion programme designed to enable hard-to-reach communities access to lightning-fast gigabit-capable broadband.

With gigabit-capable broadband, households will no longer have to struggle with limited bandwidth, while businesses will be able to improve their productivity, and public services will become more accessible to people in remote areas.

Forestry England’s local spokesperson said: “We very much look forward to supporting Wessex Internet’s delivery of ultrafast full fibre broadband on sensitive land managed by Forestry England over the next few years and hope this will have a positive impact on many residents across the New Forest.”

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