The government's Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) is launching a new Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme on 8 April 2021 to increase gigabit-capable connectivity in rural areas.
It aims to help small and medium sized businesses and residential homes that are not currently due to receive a future-proof gigabit-capable broadband connection.
If you live in a rural area and currently receive broadband speeds of less than 100 megabits per second (mbps), you can apply for the funding.
Under the government scheme, businesses can claim up to £3,500 and residential households up £1,500 towards a gigabit-capable (1,000mbps) broadband connection.
We contributed a ‘top-up’ to the last voucher scheme and this funding has rolled over into the new scheme. The funding, which will be issued on a first come, first served basis, means residents in Dorset can receive up to £2,500 towards gigabit-capable broadband and businesses can receive up to £6,000. Residents and businesses do not apply for this top-up separately, it is administered by the government when broadband suppliers apply for voucher funding.
Gigabit packages typically offer download speeds of up to 300mbps. However, the technology is capable of speeds of up to 1,000mbps when new packages become available. This exponential leap in speeds could benefit you and your business now and in the future.
Requirement to increase internet speed
If you receive a new connection through voucher funding you will be required to increase your current broadband speeds if you currently receive:
- less than 50mbps you will need to take a new service of a at least 50
- 50mbps or more, you will need to take a new service that is at least 100mbps
You may be eligible if you are:
- in a location which is rural (as defined by the Office for National Statistics) and with broadband speeds of less than 100Mbps
- not in any commercial plans for gigabit-capable broadband
How to register
Follow these steps to get a voucher towards your gigabit capable connection:
- Find a supplier from the government’s approved list and register for a gigabit capable connection. The supplier will check if the scheme is suited to you and your neighbours. View a list of suppliers in your area on GOV.UK.
- Engage with your neighbours. Voucher funding will only be released when at least 2 households and/or businesses in an area apply. The more people in your area who register for vouchers, the more funding there will be available to cover the costs of installation.
- Check how suppliers work with the voucher scheme. Each supplier has its own way of operating. Some suppliers require individuals to register with them and when they have enough interest in an area they will apply for the vouchers. While other suppliers ask for an individual to submit a list of premises that would like to register before costing a scheme to see if it can be covered by voucher funding.
- After registration, and if the community is happy to go-ahead with a scheme, the supplier will request voucher funding from the government. The government will check you are happy to go ahead by email.
- Your supplier gets to work to deliver your new connection.
- Connected! Your supplier lets government know the work is done.
- Government checks with you by email that the service is live and working.
- Government will sometimes make further checks before they pay your supplier.
Speeds of less than 10mbps
You could be entitled to help from the BT and OFCOM Universal Service Obligation if you receive speeds of less than 10mbps. This offers either a 4G Home Hub solution, if suitable, or a subsidy of £3,400 towards gigabit capable connections.