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Cumbria and Northumberland Boost Gigabit Broadband Vouchers

Wednesday, October 14th, 2020 (8:06 am) - Score 312
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The new £4m Digital Borderlands Voucher Scheme has recently gone live for rural homes across Cumbria and Northumberland in England, which means that areas with slower (sub-30Mbps) broadband speeds can now apply for bigger vouchers to help them get a gigabit-capable broadband ISP connection installed.

At present if you live in such an area then the existing gigabit voucher scheme – part of the £200m Rural Gigabit Connectivity (RGC) programme – can only 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 network installed.

NOTE: The RGC voucher scheme is due to run until March 2021 or when its funding runs out, whichever comes first. A new scheme is widely expected to replace it.

Under the new Digital Borderlands Voucher Scheme the value of these vouchers will be increased to £3000 for individual homes and £7,000 for businesses. Cumbria and Northumberland thus join various other local authorities, which have all recently injected some of their own public funding in order to top-up the value of these vouchers (here).

Bigger vouchers are good because they make faster broadband available to locations where it might otherwise still be too expensive to deploy (especially when several are aggregated together). We should point out that the current voucher scheme is supplier-led, although Cumbria and Northumberland are also helping to pilot a consumer-led approach (here), which makes community demand much more visible to potential suppliers.

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