Project Gigabit

The UK Government’s ambition is to deliver nationwide gigabit capable broadband as soon as possible. DfE recognises that there is a need for government intervention in the parts of the country that are not commercially viable. The UK Government has committed £5 billion for the hardest to reach parts of the country, ensuring that all areas of the UK can benefit. This will be spent through a package of coordinated and mutually supportive interventions, collectively known as Project Gigabit.


Funded by the UK GovernmentAs part of this DfE, along with Building Digital UK (BDUK), is developing a procurement approach to incentivise the telecoms market to invest in delivering gigabit capable wholesale infrastructure in areas not considered to be commercially viable for new infrastructure. This procurement approach will be a successor to the much-needed Superfast broadband programme and DfE’s broadband intervention, Project Stratum.

Our goal is to ensure we target the parts of Northern Ireland that need publically funded intervention. As a first step we want to identify areas which will be left out because they are not commercially viable.

DfE carried out an Open Market Review (OMR) - Request for Information (RFI) which closed on 27 January 2023 to establish existing and planned coverage of broadband services within the aforementioned geographic area outlined above over the next three years (and beyond, if available). The Department sought responses from all existing and prospective broadband infrastructure suppliers that operate, or are planning to operate, within Northern Ireland. The background to the consultation is available:

Public review - request for information

Having assessed the responses to the OMR, we undertook a Public Review to validate the results of the OMR, including seeking validation of the eligibility of the premises for subsidy. The Public Review took place between 5 June 2023 and 6 July 2023

The Public Review – Request For Information document is at:

DfE also made available an address checker to provide information on gigabit broadband coverage at:

Members of the public and other respondents were also able to provide information through the Citizen Space website at:

DfE has reviewed the information provided during the public review, and has published the following Outcome Report:

Following the public review, 59,000 premises across Northern Ireland have been classified as White, with no gigabit network infrastructure present, and none likely to be developed within three years. A further 60,000 premises are Under Review; these are premises where suppliers have reported current or planned commercial broadband coverage, but where claimed current gigabit coverage has not been verified, or, in respect of planned build, where evaluators are confident that gigabit infrastructure will be delivered, but some risks to delivery remain, or there are some gaps in evidence.

Next steps      

Under Subsidy Control rules, premises which have been categorised as White can be included in a Gigabit Infrastructure Subsidy (GIS) scheme procurement.

Please note, however, that not all premises categorised as White will automatically be included in the scope of a GIS procurement. BDUK and DfE may choose to omit premises from the target intervention area. For example, White premises may be descoped if they are adjacent to Grey premises (premises where a single qualifying gigabit infrastructure from a single supplier is available, or is to be deployed within the coming three years) because although there are no declared plans to build there, it is likely to be straightforward to reach them once the Grey premises have been delivered.

Furthermore, premises which have been categorised as Under Review cannot be included in the initial scope of any procurement under the Subsidy Control rules being used. BDUK and DfE will monitor premises categorised as Under Review through an ongoing monitoring process. Coverage claims made at the public review stage will be reviewed against delivery, at regular intervals. Premises will be assessed and may then be re-classified as Grey or White. Only premises that are re-assessed as White can be considered eligible for subsidy and possible inclusion in the scheme.

Based on the outcome of the public review, DfE intends to launch an exercise to procure a contractor for the delivery of Project Gigabit in Northern Ireland. Subject to necessary approvals and value for money considerations, DfE expects to appoint a contractor before the end of 2024.

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