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The Rural UK Better Broadband Subsidy Scheme is No More

Thursday, October 31st, 2019 (3:48 pm) - Score 1,510

The UK Government’s Better Broadband Subsidy Scheme, which offered grants worth up to £350 to rural homes and businesses that were unable to get at least a 2Mbps download speed (i.e. helping to get a faster ISP connection installed), will unsurprisingly NOT be extended for another year beyond 2019.

The scheme was first established 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 Building Digital UK based Superfast Broadband Programme.

A variety of different networks 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 connection, not service rental.

The original scheme was due to end in 2017 but it was eventually extended to the end of 2018 and then again last year to 31st December 2019. At the time we speculated that this would be its final year due to a dwindling funding pot (most of the £5m budget had gone), the forthcoming 10Mbps Universal Service Obligation (USO), several new Gigabit voucher schemes and the greater focus on “full fibre” connectivity in general.

According to an update sent to us by UK ISP Solway Communications, which is an alternative network provider that tends to focus on Cumbria, “the subsidy scheme is definitely ending this month and we have been advised – officially – it will not be extended.” We have confirmed that this is largely correct, although so far as we’ve been told it will end in December rather than “this month“.

As above, the scheme’s closure was predictable and DCMS expects the last vouchers to then be installed and paid out during the start of 2019. All of this should help to keep some clean separation between BBSS (aka – BBVS) and the launch of the USO in March 2020, thus avoiding any potential confusion between the two.

We understand that a total of around 45,000 voucher codes have been issued/requested since the scheme began and this has so far resulted in a service being provided to roughly 23,600 of those and rising (total value of around £7.3m).

UPDATE 5:16pm

Just a quick update. We’ve been informed by DCMS that while the scheme will technically close in December, the last day for new voucher requests will actually be 29th November 2019.

Leave a Comment
1 Response
  1. Avatar A_Builder

    “DCMS expects the last vouchers to then be installed and paid out during the start of 2019“

    Maybe 2020?

    Anyway BDUK moving to FTTP and business vouchers ended the relevance of this scheme.

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