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Gov Detail UK City Broadband Connection Voucher Scheme Changes

Friday, Dec 20th, 2013 (7:09 am) - Score 392
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The Department for Culture, Media & Sport has today confirmed all of the changes that have been made to its Broadband Connection Vouchers scheme since the autumn trial. The vouchers have been live since earlier this month (here), although there have been a few small changes under the hood.

The scheme uses part of the £150m Urban Broadband Fund (“Super-Connected Cities“) to help SME businesses in 22 cities across the United Kingdom to install superfast broadband (30Mbps+) services. Grants worth up to £3,000 are available to help achieve this.

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At the launch earlier this month it appeared that not much had changed from the trial stage but today’s Decision Document (MS Word) reveals that there have been a few tweaks to its design. Most of the changes are insignificant, although there are some interesting adjustments to the Step Change Definition (service speeds), Eligible Costs and Inclusion criteria.

Highlighted Design Changes

Step Change Definition
A clarification of qualifying speed parameters for business grade connections to the following:

Business grade connections these must exhibit both of the following characteristics:

i) offer a minimum of 20 Mbit/s services and are capable of being configured/upgraded to support at least 30 Mbit/s services; and
ii) if the SME already has a business grade connection, deliver at least a doubling of speeds when compared to the current connection being consumed.

Business grade connections are those that are provided on a dedicated/uncontended basis to customers and are supported with service level guarantees. BDUK recognises that these services can be provided in the form of leased lines (including Ethernet services) or point-to-point microwave links but is not intending to specify particular types of service.

For new NGA Connections, these must offer a minimum of 30Mbit/s to the SME. If the existing NGA-based broadband service is 30Mbit/s or greater, then the upgraded NGA-based broadband service must deliver at least a doubling of speeds compared to the service currently being consumed.

Eligible Costs
Refinement of Eligible Costs definition to permit inclusion of in-building wiring for multi-SME premises.

Inclusion of Residential
No change i.e. SMEs will be the primary focus of the voucher scheme. Some cities may also consider including residents as a secondary focus where there is a demonstrable market failure in meeting the needs of businesses.

Apparently some cities and suppliers claimed that an unknown number of businesses said “they value the quality of service elements of business grade services and that a service under 30 Mbit/s can represent a significant upgrade in capability“. It should however be noted that the government still requires that the line be capable of 30Mbps if needed.

Sadly though it doesn’t look as if we’ll see the vouchers going towards too many residential homes but that was always unlikely.

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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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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