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BDUK Change Position on Gigabit Broadband Vouchers for Superfast Wireless Areas

Saturday, Apr 6th, 2024 (5:06 am) - Score 1,960
broadband vouchers ultrafast gigabit uk full fibre

In a victory for some full fibre ISPs. The government’s Building Digital UK (BDUK) agency appears to have reversed an earlier decision, which removed gigabit broadband voucher eligibility for some properties (UPRNs) that had previously received public subsidy through the earlier Superfast (24-30Mbps+) scheme, when delivering fixed wireless access (FWA) networks.

The related Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme (GBVS) previously allowed those building newer 1000Mbps+ capable networks to deploy, using vouchers, across some locations, such as remote rural areas that may have previously received a subsidised upgrade to an FWA network under the old superfast broadband programme (unless of course the FWA network could now also deliver gigabit speeds).

However, much as we reported at the start of this year (here), some ISPs like Technological, which had been rolling out a gigabit-capable FTTP network to several rural communities in the Mid Devon and West Somerset (England) areas, began noticing a problem during August 2023 where certain previously eligible premises (mostly those that had in the past received a subsidised “superfast” FWA build) were now being marked as ineligible for gigabit vouchers.

At the time, BDUK said this was merely because they were prioritising other premises that have not had access to higher speeds as a result of recent FWA builds under the Superfast programme. The agency said that such premises would still be in-scope for Project Gigabit, should they continue to have access to speeds below 1Gbps before the programme is complete. But BDUK did agree to review the decision, improve communication and to investigate whether previous subsidised FWA builds in such areas were delivering on their speed promises.

What’s changed?

The good news for some network operators is that BDUK now appears to be in the process of reversing the aforementioned position, which one BDUK official is said to have described as being an “anomaly“.

Following a review of last year’s decision, BDUK has now informed suppliers that it will again open eligibility to gigabit vouchers where the Superfast scheme build phase is complete, including where FWA has been delivered and where voucher requests meet all other eligibility criteria.

Jim Weir, Technical Director of Technological Services, told ISPreview:

“I am delighted that our extensive representations to BDUK have obtained this result for the local communities patiently waiting for improvement to their broadband options. We are already actively extending our Exmoor network and connecting these rural properties to our Full Fibre service, with many more remote communities now within reach.”

BDUK are currently in the process of amending their voucher eligibility engine to reflect this decision, although it hopefully should not take too long before those changes go live on their funding platform.

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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
4 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Billy Shears says:

    I think the second paragraph contradicts the general story. My English comprehension is pretty good but there are so many sub clauses that I lost the plot. Other than that it would have been better if the BDUK spokesman had said “we got it wrong, sorry”.

  2. Avatar photo New_Londoner says:

    Yet another misstep by the CDS team!

    1. Avatar photo MikeP says:

      Don’t think the local BDUK delivery (or rather non-delivery) teams are involved in the voucher schemes.

    2. Avatar photo Ivor says:

      CDS vs Superfast Cornwall must be a hell of a case study for a business/government researcher

      CC just threw all their money at BT and ended up with a lot of FTTP from a company that was incredibly reluctant to roll out elsewhere at that time, even in the middle of nowhere. Already gigabit capable (except for the areas on ECI kit, but that can be replaced).

      CDS seemed to attempt “anyone but BT” and it’s been an endless string of calamities.

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