Heard of the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme but not sure if you can benefit? Find out how the grant could help you if you are located in a rural area and struggling with poor or even non-existent broadband.
The Gigabit Broadband Voucher scheme was introduced in March 2018 with the goal of increasing gigabit-capable coverage across the UK, particularly in rural areas that are often more difficult to connect. £210 million in funding has been provided to date by the government as assistance for those struggling with slow broadband speeds in rural communities. Vouchers valued at up to £1,500 for domestic properties, and £3,500 for businesses, are available to help cover the cost of fitting gigabit broadband and help properties get better connected.
The government has a commitment to providing super-fast, reliable, gigabit-capable broadband to everyone in the UK, no matter how rural they are, as soon as possible. This involves working hard with broadband providers like us to speed up their commercial development plans. For areas that are difficult to reach, and where broadband is more expensive to build, the government will be investing £5 billion to make sure no community is left behind.
The rollout of the rural broadband voucher scheme to these areas will be subsidised by government contracts that have been and are continuing to be awarded to broadband providers over the next few years, until the entirety of the UK is connected. The rollout has already started, and noticeable improvements have been made with better broadband connectivity making a big difference in the day-to-day lives of households and businesses in rural communities.
If your area is not part of any commercial rollout plans and you don’t want to wait for your area to be connected through the Project Gigabit rollout, you will be able to apply for gigabit vouchers through this scheme. To apply, you need to go through a registered supplier like Broadway Broadband.
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How is a gigabit connection different?
For the quickest and most reliable broadband that is capable of providing gigabit speeds, a full-fibre connection is needed. One gigabit is the equivalent of 1,000 megabits, so it is a massive step forward in connection speeds that will be really beneficial for you going into the future. Also, gigabit-capable broadband is able to support symmetrical connections, which means your upload and download speeds can be the same.
Who is eligible for the rural voucher scheme?
Homes and businesses in rural areas that meet the criteria below can use the rural gigabit vouchers to help with the cost of fitting new gigabit-capable connections when part of a group project.
- Existing broadband speeds are less than 100Mbps
- A network that is gigabit-capable is not likely to be constructed in that area commercially anytime in the near future
- There is no government-funded contract planned or currently in place to improve the network already
Group projects involve two or more residents and/or eligible businesses getting together to combine their vouchers and put them towards the shared cost of installation. Single connections can not qualify for the scheme. Additionally, projects will be subject to BDUK commercial and value money assessments.
Your new connection speed has to reach:
- At least double your existing speed if your current speed is below 50Mbps
- A minimum of 100Mbps if your current speed is over 50Mbps
The term ‘rural’ when it comes to the rural gigabit voucher scheme, is defined using agreed standard measures in the appropriate parts of the UK. For the purpose of the vouchers, specific areas will be defined as rural. Broadway Broadband can help you check whether your home or business can qualify for a rural broadband voucher through this scheme as well as guide you through the application process if you meet the eligibility criteria – how to get fast internet in rural areas.
Eligibility for businesses
For businesses to qualify for a rural gigabit voucher, they will be asked to self-certify that they are a small or medium-size enterprise (SME), as in line with the definitions by sections 465 to 467 of the Companies Act 2006 which can be summarised as:
- Up to 249 employees and yearly turnover no greater than £36 million and/or
- An annual balance sheet total that is not above £18 million
You will be required to show evidence of your status as an SME or sole trader. Also, you will need to self-certify that the business will have received less than 325,000 Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) in public grants over any period of three fiscal years including the current year and the contribution from the voucher.
The Special Drawing Rights amount is the replacement for the €200,000 de minimis grant limit since the UK’s exit from the European Union in December 2020. Not-for-profit and charitable causes that qualify as SMEs are entitled to vouchers in the same way that for-profit businesses are.
How does the rural broadband voucher scheme work?
Householders or businesses that are entitled to rural gigabit vouchers can access the scheme through a supplier. Funding for the vouchers can only be used via a broadband provider that is registered to this scheme as part of a broadband upgrade project shared with your neighbours. It is useful to check with us at Broadway Broadband because we might already be developing a project in your area, or we could start a new development if there is enough demand for it in your community.
We will need to create a project proposal to bring together you and your neighbours and then request the rural gigabit vouchers on your behalf. Funding can only be assigned when a voucher that has been requested on your behalf is approved and you agree to the terms and conditions of the scheme.
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