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Devon and Somerset Offer £500 Vouchers for 10Mb Rural Broadband

Monday, Apr 11th, 2016 (3:12 pm) - Score 1,084

The £94m Connecting Devon and Somerset project in England has announced the introduction of a new subsidy scheme (worth up to £500 per property), which is designed to help those stuck on sub-2Mbps broadband speeds to get a 10Mbps or faster connection installed.

At present the CDS project is working predominantly with BT to ensure that 90% of premises in the area can access a FTTC/P based superfast broadband (24Mbps+) connection by the end of 2016, while a separate £4.6m contract will also bring similarly fast wireless broadband from AirBand to 5,800 premises in the Dartmoor and Exmoor National Parks (here).

Sadly the CDS team are still trying to figure out how to close the remaining coverage gap (the last attempt with BT collapsed) and in the meantime they appear to have launched a new subsidy scheme, which offers a bigger voucher than the ‘up to’ £350 offered through the Government’s Universal Service Commitment scheme (here).

Councillor Patrick Anketell-Jones said:

“This is a great opportunity for anyone struggling with broadband speeds of under 2Mbps to get up to speed with a voucher up to £500 and a choice of suppliers to install a new broadband connection of over 10Mbps. We’re keen to support our residents, businesses and communities to get even better connected and we urge anyone eligible for the scheme to apply now so they can reap the benefits.”

Apparently those applying for the vouchers can only choose from CDS’s list of approved suppliers, which includes two fixed wireless ISPs (ABInternet and AirBand), two Satellite ISPs (Avonline and Satellite Internet) and one FTTP/H provider (Truespeed); the latter is currently only focused on a few villages in North East Somerset (note: Priston is in the process of going live).

The scheme will run for one year up until March 2017 and is open to individual residents, small businesses and communities. The PR blurb also says that, “Communities should work with suppliers to decide on a solution, however the individual voucher holder is able select their own supplier and a group cannot make a decision on behalf of another. Any premises connected through the scheme are still eligible for later extensions of the broader Connecting Devon and Somerset programme.”

The last sentence above may explain why the vouchers are designed to support speeds of 10Mbps rather than “superfast” speeds of 24Mbps+, although there is still a risk that further down the road this may duplicate some of the public investment. Further details can be found on this page.

The addition of yet another broadband voucher scheme may also create some confusion for consumers.

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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