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Funding Runs Dry for Hampshire’s Gigabit Broadband Top-Up Scheme

Tuesday, Sep 13th, 2022 (4:22 pm) - Score 2,112
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The Hampshire County Council in England has notified suppliers that their Top-Up funding for the UK Government’s Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme (GBVS) has run out. The vouchers help hard-to-reach rural homes and businesses get a gigabit-capable internet connection installed.

The GBVS scheme – as managed by the Building Digital UK (BDUK) programme – normally offers vouchers worth up to £1,500 for homes or £3,500 for businesses as standard to help them get a 1000Mbps capable connection installed by an ISP. But some councils have boosted this from their own coffers, which enables the vouchers to be usable in remote areas where the cost of deployment would normally be too high.

For example, Hampshire County Council allocated £1m of additional funding for the financial year 2021/22 (plus £1m prior to that), which meant that eligible residents (but NOT businesses) could apply to get vouchers worth up to £3,000 per property – double the value of the government’s standard voucher for homes (available on a first come, first serve basis).

However, as we’ve seen in some other local authority areas where the top-up approach has been adopted, voucher requests have now exceeded the available top-up funding. But this will only impact in-flight voucher applications, since the local voucher scheme has already been suspended due to Project Gigabit’s procurement programme under its wider Gigabit Infrastructure Subsidy (GIS) programme (details). This is done to avoid duplication of the public investment.

A Hampshire County Council spokesperson told ISPreview:

“High quality digital connectivity helps Hampshire residents and businesses to thrive, which is why the County Council has invested over £12m to improve broadband services in areas that are not commercially viable, upgrading connections to more than 115,000 properties over the last ten years.

As a local authority, we have been working with Building Digital UK (BDUK) to increase coverage in areas that are not commercially viable for installation of gigabit (full fibre) broadband through the Government’s gigabit voucher scheme. The £2m ‘top up’ funding provided by the County Council has enabled Building Digital UK to approve 41 projects which will upgrade connections to 4,869 Hampshire premises.

The Government’s gigabit voucher scheme is currently closed to new applications (existing projects can continue) while BDUK undertakes a procurement to find a supplier to upgrade gigabit broadband connections to approximately 20% of premises across the county that are not commercially viable. BDUK has set aside £120m for this procurement which should conclude in April 2023 when details of a winning bidder will be announced. Hampshire County Council expects any properties not covered by the winning bid to be eligible once again for gigabit vouchers but a decision about this rests with BDUK.

This top-up funding provided by the County Council has now been fully used, demonstrating the success of the scheme. No further funds have been committed and any additional funding will need to be considered in the context of the budget pressures faced by the County Council. However, BDUK funding is still available for when the scheme reopens.”

The council added that they were also lobbying the Government to increase the value of each voucher, for when the scheme becomes available again.

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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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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Comments
1 Response
  1. Avatar photo John says:

    Are there any figures for who scooped the vouchers?

Comments are closed

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