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Government’s UK Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme Ends Today

Thursday, May 14th, 2020 (8:12 am) - Score 12,686
gigabit broadband voucher scheme uk logo

As predicted the UK Government’s (DCMS) £68.5m Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme (GBVS), which offered up to £2,500 to help businesses and some homes gain access to a “gigabit-capable” ISP connection, will today close to new applications at 1pm after having exhausted all of its remaining funds.

The demand-led GBVS was first launched in March 2018 as part of the wider Local Full Fibre Networks (LFFN) programme (here) and was intended to run until either 31st March 2021 or its money ran out. Under this scheme applicants were offered up to £2,500 to help businesses and homes gain access to a 1Gbps capable broadband connection (homes can only get £500 and up to 10 homes must participate for every 1 SME).

NOTE: The GBVS originally offered up to £3,000 for businesses but this was later reduced to help manage high demand.

Beneficiaries to the scheme were asked to agree to a 12-month contract with their chosen ISP as part of the scheme’s terms and conditions for speeds that were at least double what they could get before, provided they met the minimum threshold of 100Mbps (Megabits per second).

Much like previous broadband voucher schemes, the GBVS turned out to be hugely popular and has exhausted its budget sooner than expected. As a result gigabit-capable broadband connections have been provided to a total of 18,846 small to medium-sized businesses (SMEs) and 5,281 homes around them – from the Shetland Islands to the Isle of Wight; from County Fermanagh to Norfolk.

We should point out that the issued vouchers have a validity of 12 months, so whilst the scheme is closed to new applications, connections from vouchers that have been issued but not yet connected, and their associated payments when the connection is live, will continue for a further 12 months. As a result final numbers for the scheme will not be available until after Spring 2021.

The news will probably come as a blow to some ISPs that have made good use of the GBVS, although it should be noted that the Government have already launched a successor scheme (of sorts) in the form of their £200m Rural Gigabit Connectivity (RGC) programme. As the name might suggest, the RGC concentrates on rural areas by offering up to £3,500 for small businesses and up to £1,500 for residents.

The greater value of the RGC vouchers is intended to reflect the higher cost of deployment in rural areas. Crucially the RGC scheme does NOT include a business requirement like GBVS (i.e. homes can easily get a voucher), but like GBVS it is still possible to aggregate the vouchers in order to help tackle larger deployments.

The closure of the GBVS has also had an impact on the Welsh Government’s linked voucher scheme (here), which effectively topped-up the GBVS vouchers with additional funding (i.e. up to £5,500 for SMEs and £800 for homes) and so can no longer proceed. However the WG are currently in talks to see if they can extend this top-up approach via the RGC.

Lee Waters, Welsh Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport, said:

“A partnership between the Welsh and UK Governments has seen businesses and residents in Wales being eligible for additional funding from the Welsh Government towards the installation costs of a gigabit-capable broadband connection through a UK scheme. The UK Government’s Gigabit Voucher Scheme is now in the process of closing. It is not possible to top-up a scheme that the UK Government has elected to close.

We understand that the UK Government’s parallel Rural Gigabit Connectivity (RGC) programme includes a voucher mechanism similar to the retiring Gigabit Broadband Voucher scheme mechanism. We are currently in discussion with the UK Government about continuing our top-up funding approach through this scheme instead.

It is our intention that a Wales specific top-up that raises the default ceiling of vouchers offered by the UK Government through that programme is available to ensure that any additional cost of deploying infrastructure in Wales are not a barrier. As such, an announcement is yet to be made.”

The general move toward a more rural focus is also designed to support the UK Government’s separate £5bn programme, which once ready (a framework is still being designed but the first builds seem unlikely to start until late 2021) will fuel their ambition for deploying “gigabit-capable” broadband networks to cover every home by the end of 2025 (here); this will also work to tackle the final 20% of hardest to reach premises.

So far both the GBVS and RGC combined have helped to connect a total of 24,127 premises to a gigabit-capable service, with a further 16,087 already in the pipeline. The RGC, which is also due to run until March 2021, was only launched a year ago and as such it still has plenty of funding left to be consumed. Since its launch in May 2019, the RGC has connected or issued vouchers worth over £16.3M.

Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme (GBVS)
https://gigabitvoucher.culture.gov.uk

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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.
Leave a Comment
21 Responses
  1. JamesW says:

    I wanted to try and use this at the flats I live at due to the charge from Hyperoptic being £10k (£250 a flat). But they weren’t a supplier where I live but supply an estate ~200 flats within a 1/4 mile.

    1. Defaultrt says:

      Maybe get in touch with Exascale as they may be able to help?

  2. A_Builder says:

    It is a shame it wasn’t topped up more perhaps with some restrictions on eligibility.

    Lets not forget there are plenty of places where businesses can”t get a decent connection in London – never mind in remote places. If we are going to bounce back low stress connectivity for businesses is key.

    It was very successful at getting some builds going and we benefitted from it at our offices.

  3. Guy Cashmore says:

    Will be interesting to see if they allow any extension of the 12 month limit due to current circumstances. Our project signed contracts using GB vouchers in January, so expecting completion in about 7 months time, OR have got about 5.5km of fibre to install and nothing physical started yet..

    1. joe says:

      I;m not hearing of a lot of delays yet.

    2. Yesyes says:

      Whereabouts? Signed in Jan, survey usually happens within 2 months, then planning, expect boots on the ground imminently.

    3. Alan Barrows says:

      We used this scheme and our vouchers have been extended due to us not being able to order a service at the moment although our work has been completed.

    4. Guy Cashmore says:

      @ Yesyes

      Rural West Devon

      Got fed up waiting for Connecting Devon & Somerset so organised a community scheme ourselves. 12 premises for £22k.

  4. Alec Broughton says:

    Welp… well, that answers if we can use this scheme for any USO cash deficits.

    1. Fastman says:

      dont think you could have done that even if the scheme was still existing – the USO would have taken preference

  5. BoredPanda says:

    I asked my neighbours to go in with getting FTTP.

    They all thought they had fibre already thanks to crappy marketing.

    1. Fastman says:

      bored pands

      hmmm bet they have much better fibre broadband “FTTC” than when they had just ADSL (prob multiple times better)

      so not that crappy as you call it

  6. Aimee says:

    @Fastman
    Looking at various comments in ISP communities it is apparent there are people who do not get better speeds due to their distance from the dslam (copper portion).
    After 800-1000m from the dslam, vdsl2 is on a par with adsl, and further away even slower than adsl.
    Distance of 2500m have been quoted

    1. Fastman says:

      those would not have been able to order a service at FTTC if ADSL was worse and it would be have been badged as something else depending A what distance they were and B what service provider is was ordered from –

      I am well aware of the distance that FTTC drops to reduce a service A under 24 mb/s or B 15 m/bps which is what the old BT infinity product was based against or nothing if over circa Metres (depending on what 0.X copper has been provided

    2. John says:

      “After 800-1000m from the dslam, vdsl2 is on a par with adsl”

      That’s surely a joke.

      At 1024m long (yes over 1km) I synced at 44Mb.
      That’s just a wee bit more than the 3Mb I got on ADSL2.

      VDSL2 is good for above ADSL2 speeds (20Mb) for up to 1.5km from the cabinet.
      Then take in to account how slow ADSL will be at over 1.5km.

    3. Aimee says:

      @John
      The figure is in the dslam documentation from Huawei.
      From the practical viewpoint I get 22Mbs sync speed at 1500m from the dslam, which is faster than the ADSL2 I was getting, which was 17Mbs from the exchange.
      My adsl distance was 1700m, the vdsl2 distance is 1500m, yes the dslam is that close to the exchange, fibre run 200m.
      How far is your dslam from your exchange, then add that to get your adsl distance.

  7. MariusD says:

    I’m just amazed.. In the UK they call fiber connection ‘FTTH OR FTTB’ a little speed of 35 Mb/s.. Seriously? Do ppl do believe this crap? And oh my GOD don’t get me started on how expensive it is.
    Well back home, or in any other country from the EU fiber connection is at minimum of 500Mbit and goes to 10Gbit for consumers and even higher for companies.
    And the price? Well at my flat back home for my 10Gbit fiber directly into my GPON ONT router i pay 15eur/month.
    UK has the worst infrastructure ever..

    1. Aimee says:

      @MariusD
      You are quite correct.
      The public have been mislead as to what fibre is, the current crisis shows the poor nature of broadband in this country, with often hilarious results when politicians try to speak remotely and get cut off or the audio is unintelligible (perhaps thats an advantage!!)
      To think the UK could have had fibre in the last century, and become a world leader.

    2. TheTruth says:

      @MariusD

      Your comment “back home” proves even with very poor broadband the UK is still the best place in Europe to live.

      Having said that Poland is a beautiful country to visit.

  8. john says:

    does the Rural Gigabit Voucher scheme apply to NEW BUILD domestic property?

  9. Carl Donaldson says:

    desperately looking for some more information on this scheme as a household, we have a company offering us the scheme on our 2015/16 built development but are worried that once its built if they fold what happens to that fibre, who owns it and how can we then get service from someone else on that hardware in the ground.

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