Higher value vouchers to help reduce cost of getting better broadband in Wales
The Rural Gigabit Connectivity voucher scheme for those living and working in Wales may be of more interest today as the maximum value of the voucher is now ￡3,000 for residential and SME can claim a maximum of ￡7,000 towards the cost of installing a broadband connection that is Gigabit capable.
The Gigabit capable title essentially means a full fibre service, but some fixed wireless services can deliver the required speeds with future expansion to Gigabit speeds. The majority of connections will be services such as the Openreach Fibre on Demand service or leased lines for business use.
The voucher scheme in the rest of the UK delivers vouchers with maximum values of ￡1,500 (residential) and ￡3,500 (SME). The eligibility criteria are also different as just 50,000 premises are eligible for the double value vouchers in Wales, courtesy of the joint efforts of the Welsh and UK Governments. The 50,000 eligible premises are those with sub 30 Mbps speeds today and no clear plan to roll-out anything substantially faster at this time. The normal criteria is any rural property with speeds below 100 Mbps.
To check eligibility visit?https://gigabitvoucher.culture.gov.uk
Our ￡1.8 billion superfast broadband programme transformed Wales’ digital landscape, allowing many people to work remotely during lockdown.
We are now focusing on future-proofing internet networks with gigabit speeds and, working with the Welsh Government, I am pleased to offer even more vital funding to bring this next-generation connectivity to rural businesses and homes.
I encourage all those who qualify to apply to feel the benefits of much faster internet connections.Matt Warman, UK Government Minister for Digital Infrastructure
Fast, reliable internet is vital for our communities, as the covid-19 outbreak has highlighted. Following our Superfast Cymru programme 95 per cent of premises in Wales can access faster broadband, and we need to look at innovative ways to reach the final five per cent.
We are pleased to provide this top up for the UK Government’s scheme which takes into account the challenges of reaching some premises in rural areas. I would urge communities and businesses to explore the options these vouchers will offer so they can access some of the fastest speeds available.Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport Lee Waters
Unfortunately the vouchers are mutually exclusive with the broadband USO, which is a shame as using a voucher to offset any USO costs above ￡3,400 would have allowed more residential customers to seriously consider the fibre on demand option if BT offered it as part of the USO.
There is still the aim of 100% Gigabit coverage by the end of 2025 for which ￡5 billion has been earmarked to fill in the gaps not delivered commercially and while everyone wants this funding for what is expected to be 10% to 20% of UK premises to be released yesterday that is not going to happen. At this point in time we do not know if the ￡5 billion for Gigabit coverage will be ran centrally by Westminster or devolved in the same way the BDUK funding has been, the expectation is that we can expect things to start moving in 2021.