The government’s Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme (GBVS) is now in its second phase – to help homes and businesses in rural areas install a gigabit-capable, full fibre connection to their premises when part of a group scheme.
The demand-led scheme was launched in May 2019, to support connections for groups of small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) and homes in rural areas, as part of the £200m Rural Gigabit Connectivity (RGC) programme remains open for new applications until 31 March 2021 (or until the funding runs out).
Rural premises with broadband speeds of less than 100 Megabits per second (Mbps) can apply for vouchers worth up to £3,500 for each SME, and up to £1,500 per residential premise to support the cost of installing new gigabit-capable connections.
- Group schemes are when two or more residents and/or SMEs get together to combine their vouchers towards the shared cost of installation. Single connections are not eligible for additional funding.
- Gigabit-capable broadband connections offer the fastest and most reliable speeds available. This means that the connection can handle speeds of 1,000 Mbps, but users only need to sign up to speeds they can afford. As demand increases, users can choose the option to pay for more speed as required.
- Vouchers don’t give residents actual money to spend – payment goes straight to the broadband supplier towards covering the installation costs.
- You will need to speak to your neighbours to gauge their interest, and encourage businesses and residents in your community to work together to pool the vouchers. Your chosen supplier should be able to help with this. The GBVS website gives some helpful case studies.
The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough “Top-up”
Connecting Cambridgeshire has secured £500,000 extra “top-up” funding from the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority to provide an additional “top-up” of £1,500 per residential premise and SME in order to help connect groups of rural properties getting less than 30Mbps to more than double their speeds.
This means the vouchers will have a total value of up to £3,000 for residential properties and up to £5,000 for businesses:
- Premises that qualify for the top-up funding will automatically receive the top-up when applying for a rural voucher through a registered supplier, so no separate application is required.
Find out more and how to apply
Find out more about the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme to help homes and businesses in harder to reach rural areas.
- Go to gigabitvoucher.culture.gov.uk where you can check if you and your group of premises are eligible for a rural voucher via the postcode search.
- If you meet the rurality criteria for a voucher the page will list active suppliers* in your area. Choose one to start with and contact them to discuss your needs, telling them you want to use the voucher scheme. They will then advise you and guide you through the process.
Several rural communities are already planning to use the vouchers to improve their connectivity. A village in Huntingdonshire – Spaldwick – has used the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme to get a quote from a supplier and plan for the delivery of a Fibre To The Premise (FTTP) network for the entire village. They are at the point where enough residents have pledged to use their vouchers to make the scheme affordable with no additional funding required – read about broadband in Spaldwick.
*Connecting Cambridgeshire is unable to recommend any particular supplier, but we are speaking to registered suppliers and have put together a helpful list of those who we know are willing to deliver community broadband projects to homes and/or SMEs through the voucher scheme in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough – view our list here.
The application process
Forming a group and choosing a supplier
As of June 2020, 536 SMEs and nearby homes in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough have applied for vouchers totalling over £896,880 towards the cost of installing full fibre gigabit-capable (100 Mbps+) broadband through the Gigabit Voucher Scheme.
We are keen to support new community groups who are interested in applying for vouchers, and are here to offer guidance and support as we know the process can seem quite complicated!
We would therefore be very interested to hear from you if you are a group and are planning to apply, or would like help and advice on how to form a group.
- Read about one of the first Cambridgeshire groups to use the rural Gigabit Vouchers to secure full fibre broadband.
If you would like some assistance or have any queries regarding the scheme and how to form a group please check out our FAQ section below contact us at email@example.com.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I find out if our premises are eligible for a Gigabit Broadband Voucher?
Groups of rural premises with broadband speeds of less than 100Mbps can apply for vouchers worth up to £3,500 for each small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs), and up to £1,500 per residential premise to support the cost of installing new gigabit-capable connections.
To find out if your group of premises is likely to be eligible for a rural voucher, look up your postcode on the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Postcode Checker. This will inform you whether your postcode area meets the rurality criteria, it will also show a list of suppliers active in the area.
How do we apply?
Groups (two or more properties) of businesses or residents that are eligible for rural gigabit vouchers can only access the scheme through a registered supplier, who will apply for the vouchers on your behalf.
2. Pick a supplier. Talk to the suppliers who are listed as active in your area to find the connection deal that is right for you – please be aware that all of these suppliers will be able to deliver community group projects in hard-to-reach rural locations, so make sure you ask them about this first.
Connecting Cambridgeshire is impartial so cannot advise on which supplier to use, however, we can help to support you and are collating our own list of suppliers who are active for both rural and commercial business connections.
3. Your chosen supplier will advise you on your eligibility and guide you through the process. There is no application process for you to complete to receive a voucher, as a registered supplier will apply for and use the voucher as a discount towards your installation costs.
Please note that you must commit to a 12 month contract with your chosen supplier for download speeds of at least 30Mbps through a gigabit-capable connection – but you can choose higher speeds (gigabit-capable) to fit your budget.
4. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) will contact you to check you are happy to proceed. The supplier will then undertake the work required to connect you.
5. You’re connected! DCMS will check the service is working and that you are happy with the service.
I would like to apply as a community group but I'm not sure where to begin. Is there any advice on what to do before approaching a supplier?
How much speed do I need?
Good internet speed can mean something different for every household. For instance, if you are using your home Wifi for nothing but web browsing and email, you might feel that you have fast internet with only 10 Mbps. On the other hand, someone who streams 4k video on multiple devices, plays video games online, and has smart home IoT devices, may not be satisfied with even 100 Mbps.
The experience using an internet connection depends on several factors:
- How many devices are connected and in use simultaneously?
- How many people are streaming video from Netflix, YouTube, or another service?
- Are you using your home WiFi for competitive online gaming?
- Do you frequently need to send large files for work?
- Do you regularly stream 4k video, or do you mostly stick to simple online tasks?
- Do you get frustrated easily if your game lags or your webpage takes a while to load?
Standard – 10 Megabits per second (10mbps): Broadband basics: news, keeping in touch with family and friends, some online shopping.
Superfast – from 30 Mbps: Broadband basics plus watching tv and films, and listening to music.
Ultrafast – in excess of 100 Mbps and up to 300 Mbps: Multiple devices at the same time – working, streaming, gaming, video-calling or uploading
Hyperfast – offers download speeds in excess of 500 Mbps: Multiple devices at the same time – working, streaming, gaming, video-calling or uploading
Gigabit broadband – 1,000 Mbps: An internet connection that offers a speed of 1 gigabit per second (1gbps)
What are the benefits of a Gigabit broadband connection?
1 Gigabit (Gbps) is 1,000 Mbps which is really, really fast.
Our lives are more connected every day. At home more and more gadgets and appliances are connected to the internet. Especially with the recent increase in the number of people working from home. A gigabit broadband connection makes uploading and downloading music, films and photos quicker, and also means that everyone at home can do what they want online at the same time.
Businesses can use gigabit broadband to come up with better solutions for customers while helping their staff work more flexibly and saving money by reducing travel costs.
Whether you use the internet for business or for leisure, gigabit broadband can make your online life easier and more efficient:
- Upload, download and stream content faster
- Speed up connections and improve reliability
- Save time with more efficient working