As part of their £5bn Project Gigabit programme the Government on April 8th 2021 announced the details of a new rural focused £210m gigabit broadband voucher scheme.
A quick look at the new Terms and Conditions reveals some changes from the previous scheme, such as the inclusion of satellite, a ceiling of £100k funding per project for change requests (the original £500k general project limit still exists). It is however, similar to the previous £200m Rural Gigabit Connectivity (RGC) project and offers up to £3,500 for businesses, or £1,500 for homes, to help them get a gigabit-capable broadband connection installed.
The scheme is designed to complement the supplier contracts that Project Gigabit will issue separately to network builders. As a result of this the eligibility criteria for new voucher projects has been narrowed so that only those in the remotest areas (e.g. Ofcom’s Area 3) are eligible unless, another operator already plans to cover the location. The scheme is intended to avoid conflicting with the bigger gap-funded intervention contracts under Project Gigabit, which inevitably means some restrictions to keep the focus of new vouchers targeted at the right rural areas. It is not intended to be a funding route to build core network infrastructure, it is to be used by suppliers to supplement their commercial deployment and infill neighbouring noncommercial premises
This makes sense given the rural focus of Project Gigabit and the need to keep voucher projects and supplier contracts from clashing geographically. There are some changes in the latest voucher scheme from its predecessors all of which appear to us to make sense, for example satellite is now included (although we understand there is no short term expectation that any satellite projects will be funded) and there’s greater clarity of which elements of the network are eligible. We welcome this new scheme and will do all we can to make sure that our customers benefit from it.
In summary, for qualifying rural postcodes the voucher scheme is still highly likely to be available for businesses and for residential connections. If you have any questions on the details don’t hesitate to ask us. Here are the outline requirements:-
- Your businesses balance sheet must be less than €43 million and/or your turnover must be under €50 million.
- There must be at least two properties in each scheme.
- That you need to employ less than 249 people.
- That you don’t currently have a gigabit capable internet connection at your premises already. For example, if you already have a leased line, unfortunately, you wouldn’t qualify.
There are more details in our FAQ section below.
Don’t worry if you don’t qualify, depending on your location we may have other ways of installing your ultrafast or gigabit capable leased line or internet connection free of charge. Call our experts on 01483 892 048 to talk through the options.
Things to look out for
- It’s important that you check our eligibility steps to make sure you qualify. Not all business do.
- Businesses need to pay the VAT on the connection charge residential customers don’t, but you can claim this back so long as your business is VAT registered.
- You will need to keep your new gigabit capable internet connection for at least 12 months after it’s installed.
- The internet connection you order must be for at least 100Mbps or double the speed you are currently getting (whichever is the bigger number).