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UK Gov Trial £3000 Vouchers for Full Fibre Gigabit Business Broadband

Wednesday, Nov 15th, 2017 (7:35 am) - Score 4,243

The Government has unveiled a £2m trial that offers vouchers worth between £500 to £3,000 to help businesses in four areas around the United Kingdom to get a Gigabit (1000Mbps+) broadband service installed, which is focused on helping to extend “full fibre” (FTTP) infrastructure.

Regular readers will not be surprised by this development because we reported that such vouchers were part of the Government’s related Local Full Fibre Network (LFFN) pilots in September (here), although it does at least confirm that this is one of the directions being taken. NOTE: This £2m trial forms part of their larger £10m pilot, which is itself taken from the £200m LFFN allocation.

The Four Pilot Areas
* Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire
* Bristol, with Bath and North East Somerset
* Coventry and Warwickshire
* West Yorkshire Combined Authority (Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds, Wakefield and York)

The trial voucher Scheme will only allow vouchers to be used to help pay for new connections that are “gigabit capable“, which will almost entirely support Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) style optical fibre lines but can also work with other technologies (e.g. Fixed Wireless / Microwave) provided they’re also capable of such speeds.

Matt Hancock, UK Minister for Digital, said:

“A world-class digital communications network is essential to ensure the UK’s future competitiveness in the global market and its ability to attract investment. Faster and more reliable connections are transforming the way we live and work, and better broadband supports businesses to grow and become more productive.

These voucher pilots, alongside a range of other actions, are testament to Government’s ambition for full fibre infrastructure across the UK to underpin our digital economy.”

Andrew Jones MP, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, said:

“We are determined to provide the infrastructure needed for British businesses to thrive and prosper. The rollout of next generation, full-fibre broadband will help do that.

Lightning internet speeds and unprecedented reliability will boost trade and ensure our firms can connect effortlessly to their customers and suppliers.”

The top voucher level of £3,000 is exactly the same as the Government offered several years ago under their original Connection Voucher Scheme for businesses across the UK. The original vouchers gobbled £81m+ of public funding and approved grants for 54,000+ SME businesses (15,000 in Greater London) across 50 UK city areas, enabling them to install a “superfast broadband” (30Mbps+) service (here and here).

Some may question why the new scheme, which requires a significantly faster connection, is capped to the same funding level. However it’s worth pointing out that the cost of FTTP deployments has come down since the original effort and related ISPs are becoming more common. Likewise Openreach’s recent reduction to the cost of their FTTP on Demand (FoD / FTTPoD) service may play a part (here).

We expect that the Government will eventually roll this out across much of the UK and a special website has been setup for the scheme (note: the URL they give in their press release doesn’t work but we’ve put the right one below). The market test phase will end when the money has gone or by the end of March 2019, whichever comes first.

Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme

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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