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Hampshire UK Launch £1m Top-up for Rural Broadband Vouchers

Thursday, July 23rd, 2020 (8:52 am) - Score 804
road rural countryside

The Hampshire County Council (HCC) has this week confirmed that they’re investing £1 million to “top up” any residential vouchers provided via the UK Government’s £200m Rural Gigabit Connectivity (RGC) programme, which helps homes in the most remote locations to access ultrafast broadband.

The top-up scheme was first proposed earlier this year (here) and has now gone live. At present if you live in a rural area, where only sub-100Mbps speeds are available, then the RGC can provide vouchers worth up to £3,500 for small businesses and up to £1,500 for residents to help them get an ultrafast or “gigabit-capable” broadband ISP connection installed.

Under the new scheme any vouchers intended for residential homes (businesses seem to have been excluded from the £1m top-up) will effectively be doubled to £3,000 and if everybody claimed the maximum voucher value then that would equate to roughly 700 extra premises passed.

The vouchers will be distributed on a “first-come, first served” basis, so get them while they’re hot – here.

Councillor Stephen Reid said:

“96% of Hampshire can now access superfast broadband with speeds of 24Mbps (Megabits per second) or more. This is a fantastic achievement, but we want to extend access further. To that end we’re adding £1 million towards the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme to target so-called “broadband not-spots” in the county.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how important it is to have access to reliable, fast broadband, as being digitally connected is key to staying in touch with loved ones, working from home, and helping to stabilise local businesses. This initiative is designed to get high-speed broadband to areas that commercial providers simply won’t go to because of the costs involved.”

One small catch here is that you’ll only be able to claim these vouchers when acting as part of a group project (i.e. 2 or more residents), although it’s fairly normal to aggregate vouchers in order to help bring down the total cost of a new network deployment. Crucially, by increasing the value of such vouchers then you also make new infrastructure accessible to areas that might have previously found it too expensive.

On the other hand £1m is just a drop in the ocean of what will be needed to fully complete the job, but at least it’s an accessible option while we await the final framework for the Government’s proposed £5bn investment into gigabit-capable broadband delivery (here).

We should add that various other UK regions have already launched similar top-up schemes alongside the RGC.

Leave a Comment
8 Responses
  1. Avatar Philip Cheeseman says:

    I hope it helps someone in Hampshire but I won’t hold my breath. When I complain to Hampshire CC I can’t get a 24mbps connection (in an urban area) I always get fobbed off with a computer says yes you can, canned response. It does feel like everyone is happy hiding behind the up to XXmbps defense. What use is a lower limit when they don’t actually care?

    1. Avatar Taras says:

      What does the openreach website say for you Philip?

    2. Avatar Philip Cheeseman says:

      Taras – ‘Great news. Superfast Fibre (FTTC) is available at your address.’. The problem is of course FTTC is so affected by line quality a figure of up XXmbps doesn’t mean anything. BT where only prepared to guarantee 14mbps and then all I can do is get out the contract… 14mbps (guaranteed) vs 36mbps (up to) is the gaping hole I fall into and as I say Hampshire county council just don’t care because they read the 36mpbs figure.

    3. Avatar Fastman says:

      if you have FTTc it was either funded by commercial deployment or it was funded by BDUK – – as far as i understand the provider only gets paid by BDUK for premises over 24 M/bps – its does not get paid for premises that gain a better speed than previously on ADSL but dont reach 24 m/bps on VDSL

      depending on how many other premises in the same situation and how rural you are it might be worth investigating the CFP Route

  2. Avatar Mark says:

    It’s the core dilemma of state funding. 14-36 Mb/s is below average, but perfectly useable, so why does it deserve priority over slower and unusable connections? It’s not a hole – there are just others in greater need. Saying we should do both is just a cop-out from making a decision. Personally, I think the number of premises with sub-10 Mb/s is at least as important as the number who have ultrafast, but it’s not as sexy and eye-catching politically.

    1. Avatar Philip Cheeseman says:

      I totally get that. It’s just the ‘why are you complaining?’ response I get back that winds me up. What’s the point in having a minimum you are trying to address (Hampshire’s is 24mbps) when in reality you just don’t care if people are running at more like 18mbps? There are people in greater need, but it doesn’t make my problem go away. (When your employer needs you to download then upload a 20GB VM that 18mbps rapidly does become unusable.)

    2. Avatar fed up sky customer says:

      @Philip Cheeseman

      My thoughts exactly. I can’t even get Virign as they refuse to lift the cobble stones on my end of the road, So 15 of us are left out and I walk past 50+ other houses in my road that have access to virgin or FTTP but somehow the cobble stones are the issue!

      Every time you speak to council or the providers we just get fobbed off rather than any action.

    3. Avatar Rob says:

      @Philip if your employer needs you to have internet capable of such activities, then your employer should help fund a leased line installation into your own property.
      Most of Hampshire is able to get one at reasonable cost.

      Going from 18 to 24 isn’t going to help you that much.

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