The government’s Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme has the aim of increasing gigabit-capable coverage across the UK.
The first voucher was launched in March 2018, designed to encourage broadband service providers to build full-fibre networks in the UK for small to medium-sized businesses and nearby residents when part of a group in the local area. The £67m fund was successfully used over two years.
In May 2019, the UK Gigabit Programme launched its second wave of funding to support the cost of installing gigabit-capable broadband to homes and businesses in rural areas of the UK when part of a local group. In September 2020 Connecting Cambridgeshire secured extra “top-up” funding from the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority to help connect groups of rural properties getting less than 30Mbps. With over £73m successfully committed across the UK, the second wave of the rural Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme closed to new applications in February 2021.
A new wave of up to £210m worth of voucher funding has been made available from April 2021 to support the cost of installing gigabit-capable broadband for people experiencing slow broadband speeds in rural areas.
Project Gigabit and our Broadband Survey
The good news is that Cambridgeshire and Peterborough will be among the first areas in the country to benefit from the Government’s £5 billion Project Gigabit scheme, announced in March 2021, bringing gigabit speeds to harder to reach areas.
Connecting Cambridgeshire is consulting broadband infrastructure suppliers about their plans so that we can draw up the intervention area, showing all eligible premises that can’t get gigabit speeds, in preparation for a government-led procurement that is likely to take place from summer 2021. Delivery could start in spring/summer 2022.
However, to avoid duplication of public subsidy, premises in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough will not be eligible to apply for the new Gigabit Broadband Voucher scheme after 7 May 2021 until we know whether they will be included in the Project Gigabit rollout. We will know this later in the year once the procurement is completed.
In the meantime, to support future planning for digital connectivity, we are inviting interested residents and businesses to take part in a survey to assess current broadband coverage and future demand for gigabit-capable connectivity.
The Project Gigabit Broadband Survey will be open from early-April to the end of May 2021: take part in our survey here.
Find out more about the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme
Vouchers worth up to £1,500 for homes and £3,500 for businesses help to cover the costs of installing gigabit broadband to people’s doorsteps are now available. To find out more about the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme to help homes and businesses cover the costs of installing gigabit broadband in harder-to-reach rural areas visit the official website.
Some rural community groups have already formed partnerships with local network suppliers having applied to the Government’s rural Gigabit Broadband Voucher scheme during the second wave of funding to install gigabit-capable fibre within 12 months. That scheme has now closed for new applications, however community group schemes that pre-registered with suppliers before March 2021 are progressing.
Check to see if your village or local community already has a Community Fibre Partnership scheme running on the Openreach Connect my Community pages.
Forming a community group and choosing a supplier
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 community 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I find out if our premises are eligible for a Gigabit Broadband Voucher?
Check the Gigabit Broadband website to see whether you’re are eligible for a voucher and find a list of registered suppliers to see those who are active in your area.
How do the vouchers work?
Businesses or residents that are eligible for gigabit vouchers can only access the scheme through a supplier.
Voucher funding can then be used through a broadband supplier registered to this scheme as part of a broadband upgrade project shared with your neighbours. A supplier may already be developing a project in your area or they may be able to develop a new project if there is enough demand in your community.
They will need to develop a project proposal to connect you and your neighbours, and then request vouchers on your behalf. Funding is only committed when a voucher requested on your behalf has been approved by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and you have agreed to their terms and conditions.
Here is a flow chart that shows the step-by-step process to activate a voucher.
How do we apply?
1. Go to: https://gigabitvoucher.culture.gov.uk/. You will be able to check whether your premises is eligible for a voucher, find a list of registered suppliers, and see those who are active in your area.
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 and ask if they are already getting a voucher scheme project together. Please be aware that not 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 have collated 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). This is a big leap forward in connection speeds that could benefit you into the future. Gigabit-capable broadband also supports symmetrical connections – meaning your upload and download speeds can be the same.
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