Former Prime Minister visits Wessex Internet after it is awarded £6m contract
Internet service provider Wessex Internet welcomed a VIP visitor when former Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited north Dorset in the final days of his premiership.
Mr Johnson went to the company’s offices in Shroton and to a network construction site in East Orchard, accompanied by then Digital Secretary Nadine Dorries.
The Government has awarded Wessex Internet a £6 million contract to connect more than 7,000 hard-to-reach premises to the fastest broadband.
The contract, the first awarded as part of the £5 billion Project Gigabit, will see the first home connected by the end of the year, with an expected completion date of 2025.
The project will cover the rural outskirts of towns, villages and hamlets from Sherborne to Verwood and Shaftesbury to Blandford Forum.
Gigabit broadband can provide speeds of more than 1,000 megabits a second, more than 30 times faster than copper-based superfast broadband.
Gigabit-capable connections will underpin revolutionary new technologies such as Virtual and Augmented Reality, and more internet-connected appliances in the home and the workplace.
It will provide the speed and reliability to enable anyone to start up and run a business of any size from even the most remote areas of the UK.
And families will be able stream movies, television and video games in high quality 4K and 8K definition onto multiple devices at the same time with no slowdowns in speed.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “From Sherborne to Stirling, lightning-fast broadband is levelling up towns and villages across the country.
“In just three years we have increased the coverage of gigabit broadband from seven per cent of households to 70 per cent and I am proud that today more than 20 million households, businesses and organisations are able to tap into rapid and reliable internet, unleashing their potential, creating opportunities and driving growth across the country.”
Project Gigabit aims to provide the fastest broadband to areas considered too difficult or expensive to connect under the broadband industry’s commercial plans, with government funding complementing industry investment.
Ms Dorries said: “Today we enter an exciting new phase of our £5 billion Project Gigabit digital connectivity programme by signing our first major contract in Dorset. Thousands of hard-to-reach homes and businesses in the region will get access to faster connections and join the 20 million properties we’ve helped connect over the last three years.
“The benefits of better broadband connectivity cannot be underestimated and this work will mean those living in rural areas can enjoy 21st century speeds in the home and workplace, making their lives easier and more productive”
Wessex Internet chief executive Hector Gibson Fleming said: “We’re thrilled to have been awarded the first contract under the Government’s £5 billion Project Gigabit programme.
“As a business based in north Dorset, our priority has always been to bring fast, reliable broadband to rural communities overlooked by other providers. We believe passionately that rural areas must have access to gigabit-capable connectivity and the exciting benefits it brings for homes, businesses and communities.
“Over the last four years, we have connected thousands of homes and businesses across the South-West to full fibre broadband and are excited to accelerate our roll out further with this new contract.”
Cllr Jill Haynes, Dorset Council’s portfolio holder for Corporate Development and Transformation, said: “This significant government investment in Dorset is great news for communities and businesses that would otherwise have been left behind as the country moves to gigabit-capable broadband.
“Good broadband connection has never been more important as we rebuild the economy after the pandemic. We look forward to working with Wessex Internet and the Government on this exciting development in technology, which will greatly benefit some of the most rural parts of our county.”