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Government Extend UK 2Mbps Rural Better Broadband Subsidy Scheme

Tuesday, November 28th, 2017 (1:58 pm) - Score 2,555
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The UK Government’s £5 million Better Broadband Subsidy Scheme, which offers grants worth £400 (maximum) to rural households that are unable to get at least a 2Mbps broadband speed (this helps to get a faster connection installed), has been extended until the end of 2018.

The BBSS was first setup at the end of 2015 (here) and at the time it aimed to provide help for an estimated 300,000 premises (mostly rural areas), specifically those that couldn’t currently receive a minimum download speed of 2Mbps and which might not benefit from the national Broadband Delivery UK rollout of 24Mbps+ capable “superfast broadband” services (now expected to reach 98% UK coverage by around 2020).

Originally it looked as if this would be able to harness c.£60 million from the Government’s old non-binding “2Mbps for allUniversal Service Commitment (USC), which struggled to achieve its original ambition (i.e. everybody able to get speeds of 2Mbps by 2015), but at some point this was downgraded to a budget of £5m and the rest of that funding went back into the BDUK programme.

The scheme has so far issued over 10,000 voucher codes and consumed £3.1 million of its £5m budget (here). A wide variety of satellite, fixed line and fixed wireless ISPs have made use of these vouchers and many of those have only recently been approved as suppliers. Suffice to say that there has been some desire for an extension beyond the current December 2017 end date and the Government clearly took note of that.

Matt Hancock, UK Minister for Digital, said:

“Thanks to the UK Government’s rollout of superfast broadband, more than 94 per cent of the UK can now access superfast broadband speeds and thousands more homes and businesses are being reached every week.

There is still more to be done to get decent broadband to all and the Better Broadband Scheme helps people with the very worst broadband, to provide immediate assistance to those most in need. I’m delighted to say we are extending the scheme to help people in some of the most rural and hard to reach areas of the country.”

The Government are of course separately working to introduce a new legally-binding 10Mbps Universal Service Obligation (USO), which could be enforced from 2020. On the surface this would appear to conflict with the BBSS extension, although we’ve been informed that it would instead continue to provide immediate help to those who are sub-2Mbps (at least until the USO rollout reaches them).

Furthermore, taking out a broadband service under this scheme will not prevent your premises from being considered for superfast broadband in the future.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he is also the founder of ISPreview since 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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6 Responses
  1. Andy Smith

    Hi all
    i have applied for a voucher as i was only getting1.5mbps with BT, this was the first reply from Digital Derbyshire
    Thank you for your enquiry regarding eligibility of your premises for a subsidised basic broadband installation.

    Based on the available evidence, we are pleased to be able to tell you that your premises currently appear to be able to receive a broadband service with a speed of 80 megabits per second (Mbps). We therefore expect that you are able to gain access to a fibre broadband product, which should give you a significant increase in speed.

    Except i have been trying for a year to get Bt infinity and my neighbours even longer. the cabinet is full and has no plans to increase it’s capacity

    The second reply is as follows

    Thank you for contacting Digital Derbyshire.
    We have raised a query with Openreach to ascertain if any information regarding the upgrade of capacity can be shared with us. Also, we have raised a guidance request with BDUK enquiring if we are able to issue a voucher.

    As soon as any information becomes available, we shall update you accordingly.

    I’m now in the process of getting Derbyshire Broadband wireless in the next few days and hopefully i will get a voucher
    thanks Andy

    • KuruptRuralStruggler

      Vote Tory, get government-protected monopolies. Simple fact. They’ve had the opportunity to predict BT’s monopoly effect since 1990, and failed to do so. We’re decades behind our competitors in infrastructure – at all levels. The Tory was is: be incompetent and pressure the poor and common man with more slavery, to fill the management-competency performance gap. Ever since the country was stolen by force in 1066. If this seems ridiculous, why hasn’t the culture changed to be further away from a feudal-serf dynamic? Look around, I’m not exaggerating much at all… The behaviour of corrupted-by-their-own-monopoly companies like BT belies and reflects this.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BT_Group#Abuse_of_monopoly_position_and_underinvestment_in_infrastructure

  2. Darren

    A curious question we should really be asking is how many of the “98%” subscribers are able to get 24Mbps+ are actually getting it? I regularly come across fibre enabled customers (sometimes whole villages) who do receive above 5-10Mbps BUT technically are part of the 98% (BT’s figures not mine). So no voucher for them and no Superfast!?

    • MikeW

      Given the “98%” level is an expectation for the future, I guess your question is moot for now.

      If you want to see a good visualisation of the number of premises that have “fibre” available, but are not capable of 24Mbps, take a look at TBB’s figures here:

      http://labs.thinkbroadband.com/local/

      In the graphic with the large green circle, click on “History”.

      From that, the “gap” has been as high as 3.8% of premises, but as infill has progressed recently, that has dropped to 2.8%

    • Ultrafast Dream

      I do like that analysis from ThinkBroadband. 84% of NI enabled for Superfast Broadband, a 7% increase from the 77% listed for NI in 2015, and a 1% increase since 2016. Drill down to my constituency and that drops to 66%! Now call me a cynic but are BT sitting on their hands?

  3. Nathan

    Does rural alt nets like B4RN benefit from this ?

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