As part of the Rural Gigabit Connectivity Programme announced by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport in May 2019, there is a rural voucher scheme available offering business and residents in some of the hardest-to-reach places in the UK, additional funding towards the cost of installing gigabit-capable broadband to their premises when part of a group project. Further to this, Oxfordshire’s Digital Infrastructure programme successfully bid for £1m of top-up funding from the MHCLG, Getting Building Fund via the Oxfordshire LEP, which has now increased the voucher value to £7000:
- Up to £7000 for small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs)
- Up to £7000 per residential premise
Group projects are when two or more residents and/or SMEs combine their vouchers towards the shared cost of installation; single connections are not eligible for additional funding. Premises must meet eligibility and be defined as "rural" and also be currently receiving less than 100 megabits per second. The connection will then need to be gigabit-capable, with a minimum new speed taken by the customer as a "step change” - double current speed; at least 30Mbps.
"Rural" is defined by the Rural Gigabit Connectivity programme using agreed standard measures in the relevant part of the UK. For the gigabit voucher premises in the following areas will be defined as rural.
The Rural Gigabit Connectivity programme will also accompany other BDUK Programmes that are delivering UK full fibre, such as ‘Superfast Broadband’ and ‘Local Full Fibre Networks’ and will not overlap with areas where a solution is already available or will be delivered through existing interventions.
The Government is committed to a vision of a full fibre Britain and has set the target of reaching 15 million premises with full fibre by 2025 and a nationwide network by 2033. The funding for the RGC programme has derived from the Government’s National Productivity Infrastructure Fund (NPIF), which is designed to strengthen UK productivity and raise living standards.
How do the vouchers work?
Businesses or residents that are eligible for gigabit vouchers can access the scheme through a supplier. The chart below shows the step-by-step process that each voucher recipient will go through to activate their voucher:
Oxfordshire LEP Expert Q&A Panel
Oxfordshire County Council are in partnership with MHCLG and OxLEP due to the extra top-up fund awarded towards the voucher scheme. The Oxfordshire LEP recently held an expert Q&A panel, chaired by broadcaster Howard Bentham to discuss is, 'Future-proofing vital for connectivity; how has the pandemic affected Oxfordshire’s connectivity and what does the future look like for digital and transport connections in the wake of Covid-19?’ Craig Bower, Director of the Digital Infrastructure Programme discusses the importance of being future-proof and taking advantage of the rural gigabit voucher scheme in addition, to discussing the many other factors that have impacted on broadband delivery during these unprecedented times.
Watch the You Tube video: ‘How critical is it for the county to remain connected post COVID-19?'
Visit OxLEP’s website to learn more: Latest OxLEP digital Q&A: 'Future-proofing vital for connectivity'