Thousands of homes and businesses in rural Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly will get access to gigabit-capable broadband after a third major investment in the Duchy by the Government through its £5 billion Project Gigabit programme.

Wildanet was today (April 10) awarded a £41 million contract to roll out new connections to over 16,800 homes and businesses in east and west Cornwall, as well as St Mary’s on Isles of Scilly. It follows an investment of £36 million by the Government last year which saw Wildanet awarded two contracts to connect up to 19,250 homes and businesses in south west and mid Cornwall.

Today’s announcement joins up the areas already being delivered by Wildanet and takes total Project Gigabit investment in Cornwall to £74 million – targeting more than 37,000 premises – and brings access to gigabit-capable internet for people living and working in all areas of the county a step closer.

Towns and villages to benefit from the latest funding stretch from Bude to Looe in the east of the county, and from Portreath to the Helford River in the west. Initial work on network planning and surveys will start soon and installation works are expected to get under way in the autumn.

Project Gigabit is the UK Government’s flagship programme to enable hard-to-reach communities to access lightning-fast gigabit-capable broadband. It targets homes and businesses that are not included in broadband suppliers’ commercial plans, reaching parts of the UK that might otherwise miss out on getting the digital connectivity they need, and supports small and medium-sized enterprises, which play a pivotal role in driving progress within their regions.

Digital Infrastructure Minister Julia Lopez said: “Government-backed gigabit broadband for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly promises lightning-fast connectivity for remote communities, making tasks like uploading files and streaming content quicker and more reliable, while also boosting local businesses and sparking new job opportunities.

“This is the third multi-million investment we have awarded to Wildanet to deliver better broadband for the region, demonstrating our commitment to give rural communities the digital infrastructure they need to thrive in today’s digital world.”

Wildanet CEO, Helen Wylde-Archibald, added: “The latest investment through Project Gigabit and the awarding of this contract is excellent news for Cornwall and for its many remote and hard-to-reach communities.

“It will help to bridge the digital divide, rectifying the historic imbalance in rural broadband provision whilst furthering the Government’s ambition to grow the economy by rolling out first-class digital infrastructure.

“People living and working in Cornwall will also benefit from all the social and financial benefits that digital inclusion brings, such as digital health, internet of things, remote schooling and further job creation through remote working.

“Wildanet is incredibly proud to be playing a pivotal role in such an important initiative and we are committed to delivering the best possible result for the people of Cornwall and south west England and repaying the trust that been put in us by the Government.”