The UK government is planning to “plug in and power up” ultrafast broadband in remote areas across the country as it starts the £5bn Project Gigabit in earnest with work starting next year.

Around 500,000 homes and businesses in Cambridgeshire, Cornwall, Essex, Dorset, Durham, Cumbria, Northumberland, Tees Valley and South Tyneside will benefit from the new infrastructure, which will deliver better connections for work and play.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that the initiative would help everyone access “vital” public services and generally be a “rocket boost” for the country as it looks to bounce back from the pandemic.

To help those in hard-to-reach locations, the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme has been relaunched and will offer up to £210m for those eligible.

The government is now aiming to deliver speeds of 1,000Mbps to 85% of properties by 2025, which is lower than its previous ambitious target of every home in Britain by that date.

Around £1.2bn is being invested to support Project Gigabit by 2024, though there is a £5bn war chest available for deployments in remote and rural areas.

Oliver Dowden, Digital Secretary, said that the latest plans will give people freedom to live and work where they want, while also creating new jobs.

He noted: “We have already made rapid progress, with almost 40% of homes and businesses now able to access next-generation gigabit speeds, compared with just 9% in 2019.”

Following the initial work to roll out full-fibre in 2022, six more areas – Norfolk, Suffolk, Shropshire, Worcestershire, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight – will be switched on.