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One Year Extension for UK Better Broadband Subsidy Scheme UPDATE2

Friday, December 14th, 2018 (3:23 pm) - Score 1,979
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The UK Government’s Better Broadband Subsidy Scheme, which offers grants worth up to £350 for rural homes and businesses that are unable to get at least a 2Mbps download speed (i.e. helps them to get a faster ISP connection installed), appears to have been extended again until the end of 2019.

The scheme was first setup all the way back in 2015 (here) and at the time it aimed to provide help for an estimated 300,000 premises (mostly rural areas), specifically those who struggled to receive a minimum download speed of 2Mbps and which were not expected to benefit from the Broadband Delivery UK roll-out of faster networks.

The original scheme was due to end in 2017 but it was eventually extended to the end of 2018 and wireless ISP Moorsweb are now reporting that it has today been extended for a second year, until 31st December 2019. One year ago we noted that the BBSS had issued over 10,000 voucher codes and consumed £3.1 million of its £5m budget (here), although sadly DCMS haven’t yet provided any up-to-date figures.

A variety of different networks have harnessed this scheme in order to connect consumers in remote parts of the UK, including various fixed line (FTTC/P), fixed wireless and Satellite broadband ISPs. The vouchers generally went toward covering the installation cost of a new service (not service rental).

Nevertheless we predict that the scheme probably doesn’t have much of a budget left and seems unlikely to be extended again. Doing so could risk conflicting with the new 10Mbps Universal Service Obligation (USO), which is also due to start at around the end of next year. But the Government has previously hinted that it could maintain both if needed, with the BBSS being used as a quick-fix until a proper USO service arrived.

We have asked DCMS to comment and are awaiting their response.

NOTE: Taking out a broadband service under this scheme does NOT prevent your home from being considered for superfast broadband in the future.

UPDATE 4:03pm

We understand that BDUK also plan to improve the scheme’s processes and functionality in order to deliver a “more efficient and effective service” to both suppliers and applicants, although this won’t be introduced until it’s re-launched in January 2019. At this time any existing suppliers will need to agree the new Terms & Conditions, as well as the new installation and claim processes.

Sadly BDUK has yet to provide anybody with details of the planned changes but this is expected to follow BEFORE Christmas.

UPDATE 5:55pm

According to DCMS, there is currently £2.4 million set aside until the end of the scheme (31st December 2019) and 40,445 voucher codes have been issued to eligible applicants since the launch of the Scheme (so far only 20,539 of these vouchers have resulted in a service being provided).

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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 Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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13 Responses
  1. Avatar Guy Cashmore

    Except of course in Devon and Somerset, where the scheme has been closed since 2016 and looks like remaining closed for some time yet given the recent Gigaclear contract problem. Given that the area has some of the worst broadband coverage in England, you really couldn’t make it up! https://www.connectingdevonandsomerset.co.uk/cds-broadband-voucher-scheme/

  2. Avatar Guy Cashmore

    The https://basicbroadbandchecker.culture.gov.uk/ link simply forwards me to the CDS website when I enter my Devon postcode..

    • Avatar AnotherTim

      I think it is intended to simply take you to the appropriate BDUK organisation for your postcode – if I enter my postcode it takes me to Fastershire as I’d expect.

    • Avatar Guy Cashmore

      Yes, it does, CDS in my case who stopped issuing vouchers 2 years ago..

  3. Avatar Nobroadband

    I just don’t understand the point of it. If you have less than 2mbs like me I am very willing to pay much more to get a usable broad band. As long as it’s not it the tens of thousands of pounds and not satellite

  4. Avatar Brian

    I’ve always had the problem talking to Superfast Scotland when they have suggested the scheme as to make up for their failure, that the problem with satellite it’s the installation cost, it’s the on going high costs and low data limits.

  5. Avatar John

    Have to say I don’t understand it either and it gets more convuloted with the devolved governments (such as here in Wales) who also have there own schemes to try and pretend that there is something being done for those that don’t have fibre. Especially as the Welsh Labour manifesto promised everyone here fast broadband by 2015 (a promise we had in writing from the minister in respect of our property).

    Furthermore I don’t understand how the DCMS can claim on it’s website that “the Government has provided access to basic broadband (2Mbps) for all for those who do not currently have coverage otherwise”

  6. Avatar Joe

    Tbh they might be better to hold this off until USO as its just not clear where we will be until then.

  7. Avatar Jim Weir

    The main change is that 4G suppliers can’t just fit hardware anymore they need to also resell the data contract and have a real reseller agreement with the network. This clears up a lot of the cowboy installers who’ve jumped from Satellite to 4G installs

    • Avatar Dave MacLeod

      And therein lies the problem with this scheme. Those of us who qualify for the £350 voucher can only access it via a registered supplier and are then obliged to take one of the re-sale 12 month data plans that supplier offers. Trouble is the cost of those data plans is far higher than you can find on the open market. Talk about exploiting the already disadvantaged. Three network currently offers a plan with unlimited data and a free wireless 4G router for £22 a month. No brainier in my opinion. Perhaps this is why only half of the issued voucher codes have been cashed in?

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