High-speed fibre optic broadband is becoming crucial to Britain’s growing economy. In fact, broadband was recently declared a fundamental human right by no less than the United Nations. So what does this mean for Britain’s SMEs?
What is the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme?
With British broadband massively outranked by the majority of Europe, the pressure is on to increase access, availability and speed across all areas of the UK.
To tackle this growing problem the Government set up the ‘Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme’ through the Department of Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS). They have assigned over £67 million towards to capital costs of installing gigabit-capable connections across the UK and offer up to £2,500 per business towards each installation. Simply put, this means any eligible SMEs looking to upgrade their broadband connection can now claim up to £2,500 back!
When is the deadline for the Gigabit Scheme?
The deadline for the Gigabit Voucher Scheme is 31st March 2021. However, it appears that the scheme has already been so successful since its launch in 2018, that over 70% of the budget has already been used up. This means there is only about £20.4m of the budget left for eligible users and is on track to run out well before the deadline. Will this be enough to change the fibre landscape? Only time will tell.
What’s the Rural Gigabit Connectivity Scheme and how’s it different?
The RGC (Rural Gigabit Connectivity) programme is the second scheme from the DCMS and is designed to fund the roll out of a full fibre connection to those who operate in the most rural areas. It is aimed at businesses that currently receive a speed of 30mbps or lower and fall within the eligible rural postcodes. It works in the same way as the Gigabit Broadband scheme but simply offers vouchers worth £3,500 (£1,000 more) to reflect the increased costs associated with bringing fibre to the most rural of areas.
Why is this important?
A reliable high-speed connection is essential to ensure that employees no longer need to compete for slow and inadequate broadband bandwidth, but instead have a buffer-free service that works. Not only does this provide improved internal efficiency and long-term cost savings, but it also opens up access to a range of cloud-based applications and technology, improved service quality and increased business growth.
How do I claim the voucher?
If you’ve made the decision to go ahead, first you need to find a supplier. As you’d expect, we are an approved supplier of the scheme and can help your business find the right connection that meets your needs and the criteria of the scheme. Once you confirm you’re happy with the quote, this just then needs to be supplied to DCMS and confirmed over email. When they approve, the voucher will then simply be applied to your account and we will get you connected!
What’s the eligibility criteria?
- The business must employ fewer than 250 people
- You must have not have previously claimed from the scheme against your organisation
- The business do not currently have a service that is capable of 1Gbps
- You must opt for a service that at least doubles your current connection speed and is over 100Mbps
Looking at the available data, it shows that the scheme has increasingly becoming popular since the launch, with vouchers claimed increasing month on month. With the remaining balance currently at 20.4m and the average value claimed back being £2,313; that would mean there is only around 8,820 vouchers left.
Terms and conditions
The Gigabit Voucher scheme reimburses the installation cost for SMEs who have upgraded their connection – up to a maximum of £2,500 (VAT not reimbursed). This applies to new connections only. You must double the speed of your existing connection or opt for over 100Mbps (whichever is greater). DCMS reserve the right to end the scheme at any time before 31st March 2021. Minimum 12-month contract. Further terms and eligibility criteria apply, see GBVS Beneficiary T&Cs for more details.