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Government Invites UK ISPs to Discuss Broadband Connection Vouchers

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013 (1:24 pm) - Score 413
UK Department of Culture Media and Sport

The Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) has invited ISPs to two imminent industry day events in order to help them shape the final design of the Connection Vouchers scheme, which uses part of the £150m+ Urban Broadband Fund (“Super-Connected Cities“) to help businesses install a superfast broadband service.

The initial 2 month long market test of the scheme recently concluded and the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) office is now assessing the result of this and the responses to its related consultation (here). The market test took place in four cities including Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Manchester/Salford.

As part of this review the Government has also invited broadband ISPs to two special industry days in order to share a “summary of their initial findings” (this is separate from yesterday’s BDUK meeting with the telecoms industry – here).

DCMS Statement

The industry days will be held in London on: Friday 18th October (between 13:00-16:00) & Monday 21st October (between 13:00-16:00)

These 2 events will give suppliers an opportunity to feedback on the programme and discuss its evaluation. The agenda will be the same on both days and will be sent to event registrants to review before the events.

If you would like to attend, please email urbanbroadbandfund@culture.gsi.gov.uk .

Spaces are limited to a maximum of 2 per organisation and will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.

The initial scheme offered grants worth between £250 and up to £3,000 +vat for individual premises / businesses (i.e. any small or medium sized firm of up to 249 employees with a turnover no greater than around £42m per year) to help them get connected to a superfast broadband (30Mbps+) service.

Responses to the initial consultation suggested that most people wanted to see more effort being put into marketing the final system and potentially expanding it via the adoption of “demand aggregation” or a similar solution, which could help to connect larger areas (e.g. multi-occupancy buildings and business parks) by pooling the grants into a bigger pot for specific locations.

Elsewhere some respondents called for bigger grants (i.e. up to £5,000), additional safeguards to help prevent fraud and a few suggested that the money might be generally better spent upon helping to connect those who live in digital isolated rural areas.

The original design also mooted extending the scheme to residential areas and or home workers, which sounds a lot like the voucher scheme that Wales has already adopted (here). But we suspect that this approach might be stretching the original premise a little too far and could create additional complications alongside the existing BDUK solution (e.g. duplication of the investment).

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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