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.

This new three-year contract is part of the UK government’s £5 billion Project Gigabit, which aims to provide 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.

Wessex Internet plans to 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 2023. The first properties could be connected to lightning-fast broadband as early as February 2024.

Digital infrastructure minister Julia Lopez said: "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.” 

This is the second Project Gigabit contract awarded to Wessex Internet, following the award of Project Gigabit North Dorset to connect more than 7,000 properties in August 2022.

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.”