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Dorset Council UK Launch New Community Superfast Broadband Vouchers

Monday, July 31st, 2017 (12:01 am) - Score 681

The Superfast Dorset programme in central southern England has launched a new ‘Community Broadband Fund’, which offers a maximum of £1,500 per eligible premise to help properties in poorly served areas get access to a “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+) connection.

The programme claims to have already extended “superfast fibre broadband” (24Mbps+) services to cover 95% of premises in the county, which has largely been achieved by working with Openreach (BT) to extend the reach of local FTTC and FTTP networks. The roll-out is on-going and thousands more premises are thus expected to benefit by summer 2019 (i.e. pushing coverage to around 97%+).

However the Dorset County Council is aware that some areas will fall outside of the existing roll-out plan and so in order to help tackle these they’ve launched the new Superfast Dorset Community Fund (SDCF), which will enable digitally isolated areas to co-invest with their community and get access to a faster connection.

SDCF Conditions

* Your community must be outside current plans and have no access to superfast broadband.

* Funding will not be allocated to planned or partially built premises.

* Funding will be allocated based on the number of eligible premises (“white” in the latest speed & coverage template) uplifted to superfast broadband services.

* Support funding will be allocated up to a maximum of 50 per cent of the required gap funding (community contribution) as identified in a supplier quotation.

* Support funding will be capped at a maximum of £1,500 per eligible premise. All bids are subject to assurance and value for money tests.

* We may check if any other network providers have plans to deliver superfast broadband services in the coming 12 months.

The conditions do not specify a particular supplier, although the Superfast Dorset team does state that they “may” apply for a quote under BT’s Community Fibre Partnership scheme. However the language suggests that the council’s approach will also be open to other suppliers and networks, not just those provided via Openreach’s infrastructure.

Funding will be allocated on a ‘first come, first served‘ basis and applications will be accepted until the end of June 2018. Communities with any interest in this have been asked to email superfast@dorsetcc.gov.uk.

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