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Scotland Boosts Rural Broadband Vouchers by Linking to UK

Friday, October 23rd, 2020 (12:40 pm) - Score 1,608

The Scottish Government has today linked their new Scottish Broadband Voucher Scheme (SBVS) to the UK’s Rural Gigabit Connectivity (RGC) programme in order to significantly boost the value of their vouchers, which expands the pot up to £8,500 for SMEs and up to £6,500 for homes.

Previously, the SBVS provided funding of up to £5,000 to help premises not in scope of either the R100 contracts, or planned commercial investment, to get a “superfast broadband” (30Mbps+) service installed in areas where ISPs may not ordinarily go.

Smaller “interim vouchers” of up to £400 were also made available for premises where 30Mbps+ is planned for after the end of 2021 – with an additional £250 for those in the hardest-to-reach areas (seemingly intended to help cover for the LOT 1 delays under R100). Sadly, there’s no mention of these in today’s announcement.

However, by linking the SBVS and RGC, the Scottish Government will benefit from being able to offer significantly larger vouchers, which are now worth up to £8,500 for businesses and up to £6,500 for homes. 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).

Matt Warman, UK Minister for Digital Infrastructure, said:

“This government is determined to connect every home and business to the fastest broadband available. Our new deal with the Scottish Government unlocks extra funding to help rural communities benefit from gigabit-capable connections.

A quarter of all properties across the UK can now access these faster speeds and with more collaboration like this at a local and national level, we will see even more rural towns and villages staking their claim to these next-generation speeds.”

Paul Wheelhouse, Scotland’s Connectivity Minister, said:

“We have been working closely with the UK Government to join up our respective funds and processes to maximise the impact of our respective voucher schemes across Scotland to add to progress achieved under the Digital Scotland Superfast Programme and augment our investment through our £600 million R100 programme. This collaboration will ensure that

more people, communities and businesses in the hardest-to-reach areas in Scotland are able to access maximum funding available for better broadband.”

At the time of writing Scotland’s SBVS page doesn’t appear to have been updated to reflect the change, but we assume that will follow in the very near future. Otherwise the move comes as almost £6 million for fibre optic broadband across part of the Tay Cities Region is being released through the UK Government’s Local Full Fibre Networks (LFFN) programme.

The first part of the project has seen £2.9m of UK government funding being awarded to BT (Openreach) to connect more than 150 public sector sites (e.g. schools, libraries and other public buildings) in Angus and Perth & Kinross to “gigabit-speed broadband.” This will be followed by further procurements to be completed shortly, which will release £2m to connect around 40 public sites in Dundee and £1m for 30 in Perth & Kinross.

The Tay Cities project is part of a strategy to bring gigabit-capable connections to publicly owned and community buildings so they can act as full fibre “hubs” (anchor tenants), which could in the future help to expand FTTP services to surrounding homes and businesses via private investment.

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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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8 Responses
  1. Avatar Really Annoyed says:

    This is great as long as unscrupulous ISP’s don’t start installing a gig fibre to a premises to claim the full amount and then deliver pitiful 30 or 100Mbps services over it.

    The ruling should be simple, Gig means Gig, and if you don’t comply you don’t get all the money

    1. Avatar joe says:

      Don’t be ridiculous. You get the speed package you pay for.

    2. Avatar John says:

      It only has to be gig capable to meet the voucher requirements.
      It would be ridiculous to force anyone to purchase a gigabit service.

      It isn’t anything to do with unscrupulous ISP’s.
      If I order a 100Mb service on my gigabit capable fibre then that’s what the ISP will supply me with.

      Are you suggesting that anyone who uses a rural gigabit voucher would need to purchase a gigabit service?

      Or are you suggesting that there are ISP’s who are only providing 30Mb or 100Mb capable technologies to customers who claim gigabit vouchers?

      You word your criticism as if ISP’s are claiming these vouchers but not delivering what they should.
      It’s the customer who claims the vouchers, not the ISP’s.

  2. Avatar Buggerlugz says:

    Beat me to it. Wonder where this funding comes from, (which is better than what folks in the UK get)?

    1. Avatar Wonnie Pickawing says:

      Scotland is in the UK innit? at least for now.
      I suppose England could also provide additional funding, the Welsh gov did.

    2. Avatar barf says:

      [admin note: removed offensive comment]

    3. Avatar John says:

      The blatant xenophobia that is allowed to be posted on some of the Scottish articles is pretty shocking.
      I don’t see the same on the English, Welsh or Northern Ireland articles.

      Kindly take your bigotry elsewhere.

      This is a broadband site, not a political echo chamber.
      Try Twitter.

    4. Avatar Scott S says:

      @John – I’m glad you’ve said something. These types of comments appear on almost all the Scottish articles. It’s quite off-putting, and really unnecessary. We’re here to discuss a common interest in telecoms and networks.

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